MONTPELIER, Vt. – Thirty-four farms across the state received a combined total of $73,000 this month through the Vermont Land Trust’s new program for farmers affected by COVID-19 and the associated economic downturn. Loss of restaurant sales, increased distribution costs, and lower milk prices, among other challenges posed by the pandemic, have placed many farmers in dire economic straits.
“Farmers in our state are struggling and they need our help,” said Nick Richardson, president and CEO of the Vermont Land Trust. “This is a moment for all of us to help them recover from this crisis, in return for all they have done to feed and nourish us throughout the pandemic. It’s an opportunity for the Vermont Land Trust, in partnership with dozens of organizations, farmers, and innovators, to build a robust regional food system that can last.”
The grants, ranging from $1,500 to $3,000, were available to help dairy farmers and processors transition to new markets and products, and to help non-dairy farm businesses adapt to new market conditions, such as online, direct-to-consumer sales.
One farm to receive $3,000 was Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield for their new cheese facility. “Receiving support from the Vermont Land Trust was huge – and timely – in helping our newly established creamery pivot and adapt to market challenges posed by the pandemic,” said Tyler Webb, owner of Stony Pond Farm.
Funds were available to farmers on land conserved or owned by the Vermont Land Trust who have experienced significant financial losses due to COVID-19. In selecting awardees, preference was given to farmers working with a farm-business planner as they make decisions about the future of their farm. Grant awards were made on a first-come, first-served basis.
Funding for this effort has been provided by the Lookout Foundation and Beatrice Birkin Thomas and James Thomas of Fair Lawn, N.J. An additional $100,000 in funding recently secured from the Lookout Foundation will enable the Vermont Land Trust to extend the program, which will remain open to new applicants. For more information, contact Maggie Donin at email@example.com.