Vermont Farm Fund Launches New Producer Loan Program
The Vermont Farm Fund, a non-profit revolving loan fund for local farmers and food producers, has launched a new loan program for start-up farmers and food businesses. The VFF’s New Producer Loan will provide access to no-hassle, friendly-term loans up to $20,000 at a low 3% interest rate. A true revolving loan fund, as the community of recipients pays back their loans, funds are replenished for the next cycle of borrowers.
Started in 2011 in response to Tropical Storm Irene, the Vermont Farm Fund has grown to over $750,000 and has made more than two million dollars in Emergency and Business Builder loans over that time. The New Producer Loan was developed in response to increasing demand from farmers who were starting new enterprises or moving onto new land and needed capital to fund infrastructure improvements or equipment to get up and running. Over the past three years the VFF has partnered with the Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program to support farmers in that program with access to capital, and the launch of the New Producer Loan will open access up to farmers and food producers across the state.
New Producer Loans are exclusively for farm and food-related businesses registered and located in Vermont that either produce or source ingredients for their value added food processing from local farms/producers (defined as Vermont plus 30 miles). Examples of a New Producer Loan include infrastructure improvements to convert an existing farm to new crops or products, purchase of food processing equipment, or launching a website to promote a new CSA. Applicants are required to supply a written business plan prepared with outside support from a technical assistance provider that includes at least two years of financial projections. Applications are reviewed and responded to within 10 business days, with most loan funds being granted to approved recipients within 14 business days.
The Vermont Farm Fund is a program of the Center for an Agricultural Economy, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Through programs that support food access, farm viability, and working landscapes, CAE is building a healthy, regenerative food system by promoting local foods and the people who produce them.