The Vermont Produce Safety Improvement Grant program will begin accepting applications on Wednesday, February 28 at 9:00 AM. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets (VAAFM) offers Produce Safety Improvement Grants to help Vermont produce growers prevent or reduce produce safety risks on their farms. Round One grants were awarded in December 2017.
Program staff are eager to learn about projects to improve produce safety submitted during the second round. "Projects granted in the first round had a few common themes-all with the same goal to reduce on-farm produce safety risks. Upgrading equipment to have easy-to-clean surfaces, improving wash/pack facilities, and installing additional coolers were the focus of most projects," said Abbey Willard, Agricultural Development Director at VAAFM.
Approximately $74,000 in funding will be available in the second round of the grant, and funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible applicants. Applicants must grow, harvest, pack, or hold "covered produce" as defined by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and have average annual produce sales of greater than $25,000 over the past three years.
The Agency expects funding to be allocated quickly, as round one funds were completely allocated within hours. To prepare for the second-round opening, applicants should:
* Visit www.agriculture.vermont.gov/produceprogram to download the Request for Proposals and review grant eligibility and submission requirements.
* Enroll your farm in the Vermont Produce Portal at www.agriculture.vermont.gov/produceprogram (Click on "Produce Portal.") This is a requirement for grant eligibility.
* Log onto www.agriculturegrants.vermont.gov to create a user account and familiarize yourself with the system. This is where you will submit your online application.
* Plan your project and prepare to submit your application beginning February 28, 2018 at 9:00 AM.
Questions related to the Produce Safety Improvement Grants or the FSMA Produce Safety Rule should be directed to (802) 522-3132 or AGR.FSMA@vermont.gov.
Contact: Dominique Giroux, Education and Outreach Coordinator (Produce Safety), Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets, (802) 522-3132, Dominique.Giroux@vermont.gov