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Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Farm to Plate Update - April 25, 2011

Update from Farm to Plate! April 25, 2011

UPDATE: Jobs Bill Nearing Completion!

The Farm to Plate elements contained in this year's Jobs Bill took a significant step forward in nearing completion on Friday (April 15) when the Senate Economic Development Committee, chaired by Senator Vince Illuzzi (R-Orleans), voted the bill out of committee. It is now being reviewed by Senate Finance and is anticipated to pass within the next 2 weeks.

Big thanks goes out to those of you who provided written testimonials about the importance of continued funding for the implementation phase of the Farm to Plate Investment Program and the creation of a new Local Foods Coordinator at the Agency of Agriculture. Both of these provisions have survived the committee process so far.

In total, there is $530,000 in new funding that will be available for a number of high priority strategies contained in the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. The majority of these funds will be made available through competitive grant making processes, and $30,000 of it will be made available as loan forgiveness for large animal vets.

  • $75,000 for competitive matching grants for the farm-to-school program
  • $100,000 for the good agricultural practices grant program
  • $25,000 for the development of a skilled meat cutter apprenticeship program
  • $50,000 for competitive matching grants to increase slaughterhouse and meat processing facility capacity
  • $30,000 for the Vermont large animal veterinarian educational loan repayment fund
  • $125,000 for a local foods coordinator at the Agency and a local foods grant program
  • $100,000 for implementation of the farm-to-plate investment program
  • $25,000 for travel funds for agency personnel to participate in the legislative process for the federal farm bill

To read about the specifics, see pages 52-53 and pages 55-57 http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2012/calendar/sc110418.pdf

In a year of very tight budgets and only 3 months after the release of the F2P Plan, we are very thankful to the Shumlin Administration and the Legislature for making these funds available to our collective effort. And we are also thankful to the House and Senate for all their efforts to include such important farm to plate elements in this year's Jobs Bill. This is a very good start for us all and hopefully bodes well for future legislative sessions as we REALLY start to implement the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan.

F2P Implementation: News from Around the State

Implementation of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan is underway in earnest across the state. Far from comprehensive, a short-list of the exciting activities already in progress are listed below. We want to hear how F2P is being implemented in your community, neighborhood, or organization! Please send an email to heather@vsjf.org with a short paragraph to be included in our next F2P News.

Local Food Projects Across the State:

  • Center for an Agricultural Economy and Northeast Vermont Development Association recently released a draft food systems strategic plan specifically for the three counties of the Northeast Kingdom (NEK). This regional plan uses the F2P plan as its foundation and indicates specific areas of focus which make sense for the NEK, given the types of farms and business opportunities present and the kinds of crops best suited for the Kingdom.
  • Addison County Relocalization Network is just about to release the results of their county-wide survey of producers and institutional buyers, which focused on identifying the level of interest of local producers in scaling up to serve institutional markets.
  • Rutland Area Farm & Food Link and Valley Food & Farm (which represents 21 towns in the Upper Valley of VT and NH) are both honing in on how they can best support local food production and consumption in their areas.
  • Vermont Food Venture Center is scheduled to open in Hardwick within the next couple of months.
  • NOFA-VT is actively exploring opportunities for farms to sell to institutional markets.
  • Agency of Agriculture recently convened a meeting with the Meat and Poultry Producers Association to learn more about slaughter and livestock producers' needs and interests. A Meat Production and Processing Working Group has been formed and has started to dive into the highest priority strategies contained in the F2P Plan.

In other Legislative news, the House Agriculture Committee has been working through a bill on labeling genetically engineered food and on a miscellaneous dairy bill.

Update about F2P Strategic Plan Sections

If you haven't checked out the F2P website lately, several new chapters and appendices are available online. Coming soon... Chapter 3.2: Farm Inputs, Appendix B: At the Cross Roads - Vermont's Dairy Industry, and Chapter 3.3: Food Production - Dairy.

Save the Date! Upcoming Farm to Plate Presentations

Members of the F2P Team will be presentating the Strategic Plan at the following events:

Burlington Green Drinks with City Market and Burlington Food Council
Tuesday, April 26 from 7:30 - 9PM (show up at 6PM for Green Drinks)
Black Box Theater, Main Street Landing

How can Vermont build strong local food systems, create jobs in the food and farm economy, and improve access to healthy local food? VSJF has laid out an impressive road map for the next 10 years of agricultural development with January's release of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. Join Kit Perkins and Ellen Kahler, to discuss the findings of the F2P's exhaustive 18-month research project and the strategies to increase jobs and enterprises in the farm and food sector to ramp up local food production and consumption in Vermont and regions beyond our borders. For more info: http://www.citymarket.coop/news/co-op-news/2011/3/31/farm-plate-vermonts-10-year-plan-strengthening-local-food

Farm to Plate in Addison County
Thursday, April 28 from 7 - 9PM
Bicentennial Hall, Room 216, Middlebury College

Addison County has over 200 farms and businesses supplying us with local food. Join Ellen Kahler to discuss what the F2P strategic plan means to Addison county growers and businesses. Come celebrate our agricultural economy and join in the discussion. For more info: http://www.acornvt.org/

5th Annual Vermont Foodbank Hunger Conference
Tuesday, May 3 from 7:30AM - 5PM
Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee

The Vermont Foodbank's annual hunger conference has become one of New England's best resources for learning about the issue of hunger as it affects our state and our communities.

This year's conference will focus on systems thinking and its application as we face a changing economy and a changing charitable food industry. The conference is a valuable opportunity for community leaders, advocates, elected officials, concerned citizens and those working in the charitable food systemto gather together to share their knowledge and experience. It is also an occasion for participantsto learn from carefully chosen experts on the causes and effects of hunger and how we can best work together toaddress the issues we face as communities. Please join us for a Food Systems panel discussion featuring Ellen Kahler from 1:15 - 2:30PM. For more info: http://www.vtfoodbank.org/ForNetworkPartners/FoodbankHungerConference.aspx

Farm to Plate: New Initiatives for the Mad River Valley
Tuesday, May 10 from 7 - 9PM
Big Picture Theather, Waitsfield

VSJF created a road map for agricultural development in Vermont and Ellen Kahler will lead this presentation to discuss the initiative's 18-month research project and present their strategies. Current Mad River Valley initiatives including the exciting Mad River Food Hub will also be discussed. Come learn how you can get involved to support strong local food systems, new jobs in food and farms, and increase access to healthy local food. For more info: http://www.vermontlocalvore.org/

VBSR 2011 Spring Conference: "Building on Our Strengths: What makes a great place to do business?"
Thursday, May 12 from 7:30AM - 5:30PM
University of Vermont, Davis Center, Burlington

Please join us at the 2011 VBSR Spring Conference where VSJF will host a workshop on "Strategic Value Chain Partnerships:"

One of Vermont's key business strengths is our smaller scale, innovative entrepreneurs, and ability to cultivate face-to-face trusting relationships that lead to successful strategic partnerships. Several winning examples of vertical integration that are strengthening Vermont's food system and leading to new, innovative models of businesswill be featured. For more info: http://www.vbsr.org/index.php/pages/event_detail/event_vbsr_2011_spring_conference/

1st Slow Living Summit
Wednesday - Friday, June 1-3
Multiple Locations in Brattleboro, Vermont

Join fellow sustainability experts from business, education, government and non-profit organizations from New England and beyond at the first Slow Living Summit for an intensive two-and-a-half day exploration to discuss these questions and find ways to build healthy, thriving local economies while encouraging, mentoring and supporting a new generation of activists, entrepreneurs and engaged citizens. Registration required. For more info: http://www.strollingoftheheifers.com/slow-living-summit/54-slow-living-summit/147-slow-living-summit-brattleboro-vt-june-1-3-2011

Have You Heard About the Flex Fund?

VSJF Flexible Capital Fund offers new kind of risk capital for growing natural resource businesses in Vermont.

In a time when risk capital is scarce, access to networks is critical and sustainable development is an imperative, the VSJF Flexible Capital Fund (the "Flex Fund") offers a new kind of flexible risk capital that brings with it instant access to the VSJF's peer networks, mentorship and technical assistance.

The VSJF Flexible Capital Fund invests in Vermont's early and growth stage businesses that need more risk-tolerant capital or creative financing, and have an identifiable gap in their financing package. The Flex Fund offers near equity capital (also known as mezzanine financing), that includes subordinated debt, royalty financing, warrants or some combination thereof. Near equity is not start-up capital but fuel for existing businesses that need to augment traditional sources of financing in order to produce new sales, enter new markets and create new products. Unlike equity, royalty financing is based on selling a piece of a company's revenue stream instead of selling ownership. In exchange for a loan, the company will share a percentage of its revenues with the Fund until the Fund has received back its principal plus the additional return that it negotiates with the company.

If you have an innovative, growing business in Vermont's natural resource markets including sustainable agriculture and value-added food production with a financing gap - or are in need of flexible, more risk tolerant capital - visit our website or give us a call at (802) 828-0398 to learn more.

Food System Job Announcements & Training Opportunities:

HACCP Training for Meat & Poultry Processors

July 12-14, UVM Extension Office in Berlin

This course covers the fundamentals of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and the application in meat and poultry slaughter / processing operations. It provides participants with hands-on experience in developing a HACCP plan, which is required for state or USDA inspection of meat and poultry products. This course meets USDA requirements for HACCP training. Participants will receive a certificate upon successful completion of the course. Pre-registration required. For more info: (802) 223-2389, ext. 216.

Nutrition & Agriculture Educator (AmeriCorps)

Green Mountain Farm to School
Newport, Vermont
DEADLINE: 6/15/2011

Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS) is a nonprofit organization promoting the health and well-being of Vermont's children, farms, and communities by providing programs to connect schools and farms through food and education. The primary responsibilities of the Nutrition and Agriculture Educator will be to develop, grow, present, and evaluate GMFTS' educational programs and provide general operational and administrative support. This is a full time year-long AmeriCorps position. For more detail about the job description: Click HERE.