Big rush for 'Working Lands Enterprise Fund' grants
By MIKE FAHER / Reformer Staff
Posted: Tuesday February 19, 2013
BRATTLEBORO, VT -- State officials knew there was a demand for more cash to support Vermont's agricultural and forestry businesses.
But most did not expect that, in its first year, the Working Lands Enterprise Fund would be bombarded with applications totaling 12 times the amount of funding available.
Now, some lawmakers are calling for a significant boost in Working Lands money even though the state is facing funding shortfalls.
"It's a tough situation," said state Rep. Carolyn Partridge, a Windham Democrat who chairs the House Agriculture Committee. "But I think that, if the state has money to invest, this is one of the best places to invest in."
It's been estimated that about 20 percent of Vermont land is used for agriculture, with another 75 percent involved in forestry. So state officials, in announcing the new funding program last year, declared that "the backbone of Vermont's ‘working landscape' is the economic viability of the agriculture and forestry-based businesses."