MONTPELIER The Vermont Community Loan Fund announced that it has joined the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership, (VWLP) a new non-partisan, broad-based group supporting local agriculture and forestry.
The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) is leading the effort with VWLP to keep Vermont’s farm and forest economy vital. Together, VCRD and VWLP will create an action plan to be presented to Governor Shumlin and the legislature.
“VCLF has joined the partnership because Vermont’s agricultural and economic development are central to the Loan Fund’s mission,” said VCLF Executive Director Will Belongia. “We have always been focused on growing critical sectors of our state’s economy such as agriculture and small business. We’re committed to preserving Vermont’s working landscape while finding and financing innovative ways for Vermonters to put our natural resources to good use creating quality jobs. Our collaboration with this new partnership now provides another avenue for advocacy and creativity,” he added.
The partnership hopes to attract and grow farm and forest entrepreneurs, help conserve Vermont’s working landscape, and support businesses that steward that landscape.
“Vermont’s working landscape offers economic, cultural, scenic, environmental and recreational benefits,” said VWLP spokesperson Paul Costello, noting that as recently as fifty years ago, 50% of Vermont’s land was in agricultural use, whereas today, approximately just 20% is actively farmed.
“Forest products mills are closing and production is down. Parcels are smaller, and development is spreading across the countryside,” said Costello. The new partnership will work to reverse these trends, for the benefit of all Vermonters, a press release from the group stated.