Accelerating the Development of Vermont's Green Economy

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Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

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Vermont Agriculture Development Program

Vermont Agriculture Development Program

The Vermont Agriculture Development Program (VADP) assists value-added agricultural enterprises with their expansion plans and needs. 

What is the VADP?

VSJF and the Vermont Farm Viability Program at VHCB collaborate on the VADP to support the growth and long-term success of Vermont-based, value-added agricultural enterprises that are building markets and infrastructure for other Vermont agricultural businesses. VADP provides 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 size, scale and stage of business. 

VADP partners 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: VADP Director John RyanIn 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, VADP Program Director, (802) 828-3753 or via email at vadp@vsjf.org

Interested companies should begin the process by completing the Expression of Interest Form. Please return this form to VADP@vsjf.org.

What Services Does VADP Provide?

VADP provides 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. VADP’s services are designed to help these promising enterprises reach success and scale sooner than they otherwise might. The VADP identifies, cultivates and selects strategically promising agricultural 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.

VADP efforts are designed to accelerate the growth and expansion of fast-growing Vermont value-added agricultural enterprises and strengthen the management capacity of the entrepreneurs who own and manage these businesses.

Is Your Business Right For VADP?

Eligible applicants include value-added producers, processors and distributors of Vermont-grown food and fiber and agricultural infrastructure businesses such as cheese aging, on- or off-farm processing, composting, marketing or distribution. 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 VADP 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.

Current Clients

Butterworks Farm
Westfield
Amoskeag Woodworking
Fairfax
Highfields Center for Composting
Wolcott
VT Butcher Block & Board Co. Wiliston
VT Farm Table
Bristol
Harlow Farm Westminster
Vermont Food Venture Center Hardwick
Green Mountain Organic Creamery Hinesburg
Mad River Food Hub
Waitsfield

Former Clients

Eden Ice Cider Newport
Westminster Meats Westminster
Vermont Soy Hardwick
Aqua Vitea Salisbury
Deep Root Organic Cooperative Johnson
Grow Compost Moretown 
Freedom Foods Randolph
The Royal Butcher Randolph
Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing Ferrisburgh
Sugar Snap Burlington
Pete's Greens Craftsbury
Champlain Orchards Shoreham
Y Enterprises East Ryegate

Feasibility and Targeted Technical Assistance

Not interested in or ready for deep-dive executive coaching? Through a collaboration with the Vermont Farm Viability Program, we can offer a range of services to meet your current business needs. Farm, food, and 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 VADP 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
  • Marketing
  • Legal assistance
  • Workforce development
Vermont Farm Viability Program

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.

Delivering Results:

  • For the 7 Round One clients providing year-end 2012 financials, their average annual revenues were up 31 percent from 2010 (the pre-VADP benchmark year). The median revenue increase was 40 percent. The combined revenue increase was $1.31 million.
  • In 2010, 5 of these 7 businesses lost money. In 2012, 5 of the 7 were earning a profit.  Their combined net income grew by $647K.
  • 6 of the 7 increased employment. Their cumulative employment increased by 9.5 FTEs.
  • 5 of the 6 secured Round 1 clients accessed new capital in the form of grants, equity and loans in the past year. The individual client amounts raised ranged from $25,000 to $3 million. In total, the Round One clients raised over $800,000 in equity and more than $3 million in new borrowing in FY13. One additional client arranged joint venture partnerships that have brought in more than $1 million in equipment and capital improvements.

WANTED:  Business or Food Industry Consultants

The VSJF, in collaboration with the Farm 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