Vermont Agriculture & Forest Products Development Program
High quality coaching and consulting services for value-added agricultural and forest related enterprises.
Through this program, we support the growth and long-term success of Vermont-based, value-added working lands enterprises that are building markets and infrastructure for other Vermont working lands businesses. We provide critical venture coaching to a small number of select businesses each year to help them obtain the right match of growth capital (e.g., debt, equity, royalty financing) for their scale and stage of business.
We partner with other business service providers such as Vermont Small Business Development Center, regional development corporations, UVM Extension,and others as needed to help client businesses in their efforts to grow and expand.
How to Enroll: In order to begin working with the program, please complete and send us an expression of interest form. The cost to participate in the VADP is $5,000 (flexible payment schedule is available) for each client. We estimate that the year's worth of high quality services we provide to each client is valued at ~$15,000. 100% satisfaction is guaranteed or your cost share payment will be refunded in full. If you have questions about the program, please feel free to contact John Ryan, Program Director, (802) 828-3753 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What Services Do We Provide?
We provide critical venture coaching to a small number of select businesses each year to help them obtain the right match of growth capital for their stage of business. Our services are designed to help these promising enterprises reach success and scale sooner than they otherwise might. We identify, cultivate and select strategically promising agricultural and forest related entrepreneurs and enterprises to monitor, coach and directly assist with the following set of services:
- Wrap-around growth and expansion assessment, planning and financial assistance, including development of the growth plan and its financial package;
- Readiness Consulting designed to prepare agricultural entrepreneurs for raising capital. This includes: identification of appropriate capital sources; due diligence and vetting of business opportunities; preparation and submission of financing requests including assistances with preparing the pitch; and negotiation with capital providers;
- Identifying and linking agricultural entrepreneurs to technical assistance not directly tied to raising capital. This may include: location assessments; marketing and branding assistance; permitting and regulatory assistance; operational analysis and planning; food science technical assistance; product research and development; sustainability/stewardship practices and identifying potential sources of R&D funding;
- Networking emerging businesses and their managers with more seasoned leaders of mature agriculture-related businesses, to provide immediate peer advising and also seed ongoing learning relationships within the agricultural and food enterprise sector; and
- Networking entrepreneurs with a variety of capital providers within and outside the region.
Our efforts are designed to accelerate the growth and expansion of fast-growing Vermont value-added agricultural and forest related enterprises and strengthen the management capacity of the entrepreneurs who own and manage these businesses.
Is Your Business Right For This Program?
Eligible applicants include value-added producers, processors and distributors of Vermont-grown food and fiber, agricultural forest-based infrastructure businesses such as cheese aging, on- or off-farm processing, composting, marketing or distribution, and forest products manufacturing. In addition to adding value to Vermont’s working landscape, preferred companies will have seasoned managers, at least two years of operating history and average annual sales in excess of $250,000. Some of our criteria include:
- Experienced entrepreneur managing the business who has weathered one or more significant business downturns or “mistakes.”
- Product or service has a growing market and builds infrastructure, enhances value or expands markets for other agricultural businesses in Vermont.
- Management is actively looking to engage with this program as a partner and can commit the time necessary to both work "on" the business.
- The product or service is not being provided by other Vermont-based businesses and/or is needed by other agricultural businesses in Vermont.
- Business is a for-profit or cooperative corporation or is a nonprofit with a mission that supports Vermont’s working landscape.
|Cooperman Fife & Drum
|6 VT Farm & Food Trade Associations|
|1 opening for a new client
|Eden Ice Cider||Newport|
|Deep Root Organic Cooperative||Johnson|
|The Royal Butcher||Randolph|
|Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing||Ferrisburgh|
|Mad River Food Hub||Waitsfield|
|Green Mountain Organic Creamery||Hinesburg|
|Vermont Food Venture Center||Hardwick|
|Y Enterprises||East Ryegate|
|Highfields Center for Composting||Wolcott|
|VT Butcher Block & Board Co.||Wiliston|
|VT Farm Table||Bristol|
|Screamin' Ridge Farm||Montpelier|
Feasibility and Targeted
Not interested in or ready for deep-dive executive coaching? Through a collaboration with the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, we can offer a range of services to meet your current business needs. Farm, food, and other working landscape businesses that are in need of business or feasibility planning, enterprise analysis, marketing assistance, or other specific technical assistance but do not meet the Program's criteria are eligible for this assistance. Examples of this assistance include:
- Business, or transfer planning
- Analysis or planning for specific enterprises within your business
- Financial assessments or accounting assistance
- Process engineering
- Legal assistance
- Workforce development
The Vermont Farm Viability Program offers business planning and technical assistance to Vermont farm, food and forestry businesses. Enrollees work one-on-one with a business planning advisor, and the program is tailored to fulfill specific business goals, assess the operation’s strengths and weaknesses, and explore possible management or other changes that could increase profitability. Entrepreneurs and planning advisors meet and work together for approximately one year to produce a written business plan. In the second year entrepreneurs are provided with additional technical assistance in updating and implementing their plans. Entrepreneurs may meet with a business advisor for a shorter period for more targeted technical assistance in such areas as marketing, feasibility analysis, or improving financial systems.
Sixteen of the 18 post-program businesses provided VADP with their 2014 financial data. Compared to the baseline year that they enrolled in the program:
- 15 of 16 had increased SALES
- 13 of 15 had increased NET OPERATING INCOME
- 13 of 16 had added JOBS
- 16 of 16 reported higher TOTAL & AVERAGE WAGES
- 11 of 16 made capital improvements of at least $100,000 since the start of their engagement
- 12 of 16 raised outside capital of at least $100,000 since the start of their engagement
As a group, the program’s 16 reporting graduates increased their revenue by an average of 15.3% per year and wages by 19.6% per year. Each business added an annual average of 2.0 FTE employees and increased Net Revenue by $25,300 per business per year. Each of these same businesses experienced an average annual growth of $161,000 in New Capital, $252,000 in Total Assets, $224,000 in Capital Improvements, and $48,900 in Net Equity in the year or years after finishing working with the program.
WANTED: Business or Working Lands Industry Consultants
The VSJF, in collaboration with the Farm & Forest Viability Enhancement Program and the Vermont Small Business Development Center, is compiling a database of consultants with the expertise to assist our clients. We’re particularly interested in compiling information about consultants who can assist growing Vermont-based agricultural enterprises, specifically those with at least $250,000 in gross sales that are rapidly expanding their market presence, adding new products, relocating, seeking government grants or loans, preparing financial plans and raising capital (debt, equity, grants and loans).
If you have worked with fast-growing businesses (whether agricultural or not) and have an interest in working with us, we want to make certain we know about your expertise, interests and availability. Please let us know more about you by completing the Consultant Inventory Form.
Thanks to Our Funders!
We have raised funding support for this program from:
- High Meadows Fund
- John Merck Fund
- Canaday Foundation
- Anonymous foundation
- Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets
- Vermont Training Program
- USDA/EDA Jobs Accelerator Program