VHCB Launches COVID-19 Business Coaching for Farm, Food & Forest Sector Businesses

Montpelier, VT – The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, is expanding services to help working lands businesses navigate urgent needs related to COVID-19. Funding for these new services is provided through generous support of $50,000 from the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI).

“Working lands businesses are experiencing a wide range of impacts, as well as opportunities, during this COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses across this spectrum have increased need for coaching and technical assistance to help them respond, access resources, and build a foundation for recovery and long-term viability,” said Ela Chapin, Viability Program Director.

To support businesses through response and recovery, the Viability Program is providing quick-response consultations to farm, food, and forest products businesses through its network of expert business advisors, in addition to its regular long-term advising services. In partnership with Farm First and the Vermont Agricultural Mediation Program, this initiative will also expand stress management, mental health, and mediation services to working lands businesses statewide.

Entrepreneurs seeking help complete a streamlined intake form and are matched with an expert business advisor for an initial 30-60 minute consultation. Advisors help the business address immediate needs, connect with available resources, and plan next steps, with follow-up as needed. Topics may include navigating federal & state relief programs, planning for cash flow, connecting with health & wellbeing resources, shifting markets, and scaling or pivoting to meet increased demand. Support is available to all working lands businesses.

“VHCB’s Viability Program is a trusted partner that has helped more than 850 working lands enterprises enhance their operations, diversify, and plan for transition. The Viability Program’s direct support services are a key resource for businesses during this critical time, and will help build a more resilient working lands economy going forward,” said Secretary of Agriculture, Anson Tebbetts.

Commissioner of Forests, Parks & Recreation, Michael Snyder, said, “Working lands businesses are a key economic driver in Vermont. Providing forest products and agricultural businesses with support and coaching in these challenging times will be integral to the recovery of this sector and our state as a whole.”

For more information, please visit the Viability Program’s COVID Response & Recovery Support page. A compilation of resources, guides, and tools is also available at the Viability Program’s COVID-19 Resources for Working Lands Businesses page.

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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 www.vhcb.org/viability.

" Charlotte, VT (Photo: VHCB).