At the beginning of 2008, the VT Agency of Agriculture and John Merck Fund asked VCRD to manage a strategic planning process designed to advance farm businesses and agricultural enterprises in the state. “Moving Vermont Agriculture Forward,” began with two working task forces: Branding and Marketing and Business Development. The task forces were designed to look for key opportunities to support long-term business profitability in agriculture and value-added ventures, dairy and non-dairy, and to identify signature projects that could advance agricultural development to the next level.
The Branding and Marketing Task Force developed a platform with three key ideas:
- Expanding cross agency support for agritourism;
- Building a “Vermont Farm and Food Festival,” to showcase VT agriculture; and
- Establishing an on-line center for agritourism and Vermont product sales.
The Business Development Task Force evaluated the potential for the creation of a Vermont Agriculture Development Corporation to rally technical advice, site and regulatory assistance, business planning and financing help, and equity capital to eligible agricultural entrepreneurs.
VCRD deeply appreciates all the task force members and the assistance of Helen Labun Jordan of the Agency of Agriculture in this effort.