Viability Program Awards $410,00 in 2019 Dairy Improvement Grants

Montpelier, VT, December 4, 2019 – The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB), awarded a total of $410,944 to 12 Vermont farms through its FY2019 Dairy Improvement Grants. These grants are made available with funding from Commonwealth Dairy, whose Brattleboro plant produces Green Mountain Creamery Greek yogurt from Vermont milk.

Eric Clifford

“We need programs like the Dairy Improvement Grant Program to keep up with the industry and stay viable. Investments in new, innovative equipment would not be possible without this program. We’re very grateful that this funding is available.”     

--Eric Clifford, Starksboro Dairy Farmer


St. Albans Messenger story  

Grant recipients across the state were awarded up to $40,000 for capital improvement projects to improve cow health, farm efficiency, milk quality and production, and water quality. These grants leveraged $699,894 in additional investments, farm contributions, and grant funding from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said, “These grants through the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program are supporting family farmers in making critical investments in the future viability of their businesses. This investment in infrastructure and innovative technology, along with business advising provided by the Viability Program, results in improvements in efficiency, milk quality, animal welfare, and environmental stewardship that may not have been possible otherwise in the current market.”

Kiersten Bourgeois, Business Development & Communications Manager at Dairy Farmers of America, said, “The Dairy Improvement Grant program has been instrumental in providing needed funding to dairy farmers across Vermont. The commitment that Commonwealth Dairy made has positively impacted many farm families and benefitted the dairy industry in Vermont.”

  • Clifford Farm is an eighth generation dairy farm in Starksboro with a 235-cow herd, owned and operated by Eric and Jane Clifford. In 2017, they received a $25,000 Dairy Improvement Grant to purchase a no-till grain drill with a seed box. Eric says the farm prides itself on “cow comfort, milk quality and sustainable cropping.” The efficiencies of the new drill will allow additional planting for forages, while improving soil quality and reducing run-off. Eric explains, “We need programs like the Dairy Improvement Grant Program to keep up with the industry and stay viable. Investments in new, innovative equipment would not be possible without this program. We’re very grateful that this funding is available.”     
  • Recent grantees Kirk & Katrina Lanphear run Lanphear Farm with their family in Hyde Park. Named the 2016 Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year, Lanphear Farm received a $40,000 Dairy Improvement Grant in 2018 to invest in a cow monitoring system that provides data on health, breeding, and milk production. The Lanphears said the system has helped them meet their goals to ensure “the cows come first,” address time-sensitive needs more quickly, and make tracking and maintenance more efficient and less costly for the next generation. Kirk Lanphear explained, “Managing over 500 cows is a lot to take on. This monitoring system has been an immense help in easing the workload for us now and making it easier for our children to take over management of the farm and be successful going forward.”

VHCB’s Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, in partnership with Dairy Farmers of America and Commonwealth Dairy, hosted an event celebrating the 2019 Dairy Improvement Grantees at the Dairy Farmers of America’s St. Albans Creamery on December 4, 2019.

Since 2012, funding from Commonwealth Dairy has enabled the Viability Program to award nearly $1.9 million in Dairy Improvement Grants, leveraging an additional $7.7 million. A full report detailing the impacts of the Dairy Improvement Grants program is available online along with information about additional grants and upcoming deadlines at:


2019 Dairy Improvement Grant Awards:

Sam Bellavance, Sunset Lake Farm LLC #2, Alburgh: $39,000 to purchase a no-till grain drill

Rhonda & Myles Goodrich, Molly Brook Farm, Danville: $40,000 for milk house renovations

Hilda & Steve Haines, Fisk-Haines Farm LLC, Danby: $40,000 to purchase a silage bagger and decommission a haylage bunk

Harold Howrigan, HJ & A Howrigan and Sons, Inc., Sheldon: $31,810 to purchase a no-till drill

Thomas Howrigan, B&T Black Creek Farms, LTD, Fairfield: $40,000 to install a cow identification system

Kirk & Katrina Lanphear, Lanphear Farm, Hyde Park: $40,000 to purchase a cow activity monitoring system

Mark Magnan, Magnan Bros. Maquam Shore Dairy, St. Albans: $40,000 to install a computer cow ID system and to purchase automatic take-offs

David Manning, Manning Dairy LLC, St. Albans: $33,684 for bulk tank upgrades

Jacques & Roberta Royer, J&R Family Farm, LLC, North Troy: $40,000 to help build a new heifer barn

Peter Smith, Chimney Point Farm LP, Addison: $40,000 to purchase a multi-crop no-till seeder equipped with GPS

Lorenzo Whitcomb, North Williston Cattle Company, Williston: $16,450 to purchase a no-till cover crop drill

Patti & Brian Wilson, Morningside Farm, Shoreham: $10,000 to build a micro-dairy processing facility


The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program provides business planning, technical assistance, and ownership transfer planning to farm, food and forest products businesses. For more information about the Viability Program, please visit