Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund Grants Total of $2.45 Million to Farmers Recovering From Irene
The Vermont Community Foundation and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced that the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund has awarded an additional $521,935 to 68 farmers dealing with the long-term effects of Tropical Storm Irene in the fund’s sixth round. To date, the grant committee has received applications from 259 farmers and has awarded grants to 225 farmers totaling in excess of $2.45 million. As of October 25, total contributions received or pledged to the fund were just over $2.48 million.
For the fund’s sixth and final round, the grant committee accepted applications from farmers who had not yet applied to the fund as well as from farmers who had already received assistance. The grant committee gave those who had not yet received a grant priority in the grantmaking process. With the exception of a handful of anticipated donations, the committee has closed the fund and is now reviewing existing applications to distribute the remaining dollars.
“It is because of the generosity of Vermonters and all those who have offered support over the past fourteen months that the fund has been able to reach so many farmers with grant support,” says Stuart Comstock-Gay, president & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “We greatly appreciate the dedication of the Agency of Agriculture to this effort and we continue to work with our partners in the community to discuss how we can be most helpful for long-term recovery.”
“Our multi-sector partnership enabled us to build a ‘critical care’ team which matched the generosity of donors who believe in Vermont’s working landscape with the farmers who are working the land,” says Chuck Ross, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. “This model not only represents core Vermont values of ‘community and giving’, it also produced outcomes which helped many Vermont farms remain viable through tough times. Thank you to our partners and donors around the state for their generous contributions to our farm community and for making this very real difference in Vermont.”
If readers know of a farmer who has not yet applied to the fund and is facing Irene-related recovery needs, they are encouraged to contact Ryan Torres at the Vermont Community Foundation at 802-388-3355 ext. 289.
The grant committee includes representatives from the Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, NOFA Vermont, Vermont Farm Bureau, Rural Vermont, Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, and University of Vermont Extension. Grant decisions are based on a number of factors, including total losses and overall need.
Grants from the fund help farmers replace infrastructure, seed, feed, livestock, supplies, and equipment lost as a result of the storm, to the extent the losses were not covered by insurance or other sources of income. The grants can also be used to help pay outstanding bills such as farm mortgage costs, land lease payments, or animal feed bills.
According to the Agency of Agriculture, a rough estimate of farmland impacted by Irene exceeds 20,000 acres; the estimated value of crop losses and crop land damage exceed $20 million statewide. A total of 476 Vermont farms have reported damage to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Visit www.vtfloodresponse.org to learn more about the fund, to make a contribution, or to read about farmers who have received grants from the fund.