Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund awards over $300,000 to farmers affected by Tropical Storm Irene
The Vermont Community Foundation and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture have announced that the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund has awarded over $300,000 in the first grant round to farmers affected by Tropical Storm Irene. The grants came two weeks after application guidelines were posted and four weeks after the fund was established to address the critical needs of Vermont farms that sustained damage from Irene.
According to the Agency of Agriculture, over 400 farms have reported damages and a rough estimate of farmland impacted by Irene exceeds 15,000 acres; a conservative estimate of crop losses and crop land damage needing repair exceeds $10 million dollars.
In this initial grant round, the fund’s grant committee received 86 applications and approved grants to 52 farmers totaling $303,700. The majority of applications that were not funded in this first round remain under consideration by the committee, which plans to issue a new round of grants roughly every two weeks until the fund is exhausted. Grant decisions are based on a number of factors, including total losses and overall need.
The grant committee includes representatives from the Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, NOFA Vermont, Vermont Farm Bureau, Rural Vermont, Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, and University of Vermont Extension.
“As we all know, many of Vermont’s farms suffered devastating losses as a result of Irene,” said Stuart Comstock-Gay, President & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “It was important to us that affected farmers receive grant money within several weeks of the storm, to allow them to begin the process of rebuilding as soon as possible.”
The grants, which fund up to $10,000 per farm, will help farmers replace infrastructure, seed, feed, livestock, supplies, and equipment lost as a result of the storm, to the extent the losses were not covered by insurance or other sources of income. The grants can also be used to help pay outstanding bills such as farm mortgage costs, land lease payments, animal feed bills, or personal, family, or living expenses.
“As is the case with other Vermonters, Tropical Storm Irene punished many Vermont farmers, especially those whose land is adjacent to rivers. That’s why we are thrilled that some of the farmers whose farms sustained damage have received assistance. We know that when we give our farmers a helping hand they spring back and will continue to produce the quality agricultural products that make Vermont a leader,” said Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. “But we can’t forget that there is still significant need in Vermont’s farming communities. That’s why it is vital that we continue to support the Farm Disaster Relief Fund.”
The Community Foundation continues to accept applications from farmers affected by Irene. Applications are available on the Vermont Community Foundation website, www.vermontcf.org. Those interested in learning more about the fund or making a contribution can also visit www.vtfloodresponse.org, a website set up by the Foundation to collect and report back on the contributions to its different relief and recovery funds.
The Agency of Agriculture works to facilitate, support and encourage the growth and viability of Vermont agriculture while protecting the working landscape, human, animal and plant health and the environment. Visitwww.vermontagriculture.com for more information.
The Vermont Community Foundation has been helping donors give to the causes and organizations they care about since 1986. It is Vermont’s largest homegrown grant maker. Together, its family of over 600 funds provides more than $10 million in grants per year. In addition, it helps keep Vermont’s nonprofit community vital by offering endowment management and planned giving services, and providing leadership in charitable giving of all kinds. Visitwww.vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355 for more information.