Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) Wednesday announced $594,645 in federal grants to promote local food systems and organic agriculture in Vermont. The grants were released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to five organizations across the Green Mountain State as part of the 2014 Farm Bill's commitment to promoting access to local and organic agriculture.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said, "Vermont has been a leader in organic agriculture and local food systems. These grants are an investment in that progress to ensure more people have access to these healthy foods and Vermont farmers can promote their products."
The grants were part of $52 million released nationwide by the USDA to support the growing organic industry and local and regional food systems. The programs were authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, which built on past investments in local and regional food systems, healthy food access, organic agriculture, and growing opportunities for Vermont's small and mid-sized farms and farmers hoping to diversify. Some of this funding was provided through the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations process.
Following is a list of the grants:
-Vital Communities - $79,193 to increase sales for Upper Valley Producers through consumer education and community collaborations
-Northeast Organic Farming Association - $92,362 to grow demand for direct-to-consumer markets
-Vermont Housing and Conservation Board - $100,000 to increase the overall business viability of Vermont Food Hubs
-Association of Africans Living in Vermont - $247,710 to support local efforts in ending food insecurity and hunger among low-income populations
-University of Vermont and State Agricultural College - $75,380 to support Vermont apple growers and cideries, expand production, and find new efficiencies to support rural Vermont economies