Two local farms shared in $74,000 of grants awarded by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to nine Vermont produce growers making on-farm improvements that prevent or reduce produce-safety risks.
Harlow Farm in Westminster received $6,179 to update the root vegetable wash-and-pack line with materials that can be easily cleaned and sanitized, while New Leaf CSA in Dummerston got $9,502 to upgrade the wash/pack area to a covered facility, add a cold storage unit, and install stainless steel counters and a sink for produce washing and handling.
Funds were granted on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible farms that grow, harvest, pack, or hold “covered produce” as defined by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule.
In the first round, eight farms received $74,029 to assist with on-farm food-safety improvements. In total, the program has awarded $148,029 to 17 Vermont produce farms. In both rounds, applications exceeded the total available funds within minutes; a total of 44 applicants requested $353,470 in produce-safety improvement grant funds.
“Our farms are working hard to go above and beyond produce-safety standards. The number of farms seeking funds to implement produce-safety practices is truly remarkable. We encourage farmers to work with our Produce Safety Team to learn about additional funding opportunities in the future,” Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said in a news release.