Introduced by Representatives Hosford of Waitsfield, Johnson of South Hero, Baker of West Rutland, Botzow of Pownal, Branagan of Georgia, Clarkson of Woodstock, Evans of Essex, Haas of Rochester, Jewett of Ripton, Johnson of Canaan, Lawrence of Lyndon, Malcolm of Pawlet, Martin of Springfield, Martin of Wolcott, McLaughlin of Royalton, Orr of Charlotte, Otterman of Topsham, Pellett of Chester, Severance of Colchester, Smith of New Haven and Zuckerman of Burlington
Subject: Agriculture; economic development; fuel production; food processing
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to establish an agricultural resource production grant program in the agency of agriculture, food and markets for farmers seeking to develop and implement food processing or biofuel production activities or facilities. The bill would also require the agency of agriculture, food and markets to prepare an informational manual to serve as a basic reference guide for Vermont farmers seeking to invest in and develop agricultural biofuel production.
AN ACT RELATING TO AGRICULTURAL FOOD PROCESSING AND FUEL PRODUCTION
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 6 V.S.A. § 4711 is added to read:
§ 4711. AGRICULTURAL RESOURCE PRODUCTION GRANT
(a) The Vermont agricultural resource production grant program is created in the agency of agriculture, food and markets to provide assistance to Vermont farmers to obtain the capital, equipment, expertise, and materials that will help them develop and implement successful on-farm or regional agricultural food processing or fuel production activities and facilities. The following shall be eligible for assistance under the grant program:
(1) equipment to harvest agricultural biomass;
(2) equipment or technology for the conversion of agricultural biomass into energy;
(3) equipment or technology for the processing of crops or other food products; and
(4) professional development and technical assistance services concerning agricultural fuel production or local food processing.
(b) The secretary of agriculture, food and markets shall establish by rule grant criteria, performance, goals, evaluative measures, and other criteria necessary to implement the program.
(c) The agricultural resource production program special fund is established in the state treasury and shall be administered by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund shall be retained in the fund. The fund shall be used only for the purposes of effectuating and implementing the agricultural resource production program established by this section. There shall be deposited in such fund any monies appropriated by the general assembly to or received by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets from any other source, public or private.
Sec. 2. AGRICULTURAL RESOURCE PRODUCTION GRANT
The secretary of agriculture, food and markets shall report in writing to the senate and house committees on agriculture on or before January 31 of each year starting in 2008 on the number and amounts of grants awarded under the agricultural resource production grant program, how funds from the program were used by each grantee, the amount of monies appropriated to the fund, and, to the extent possible, any increase in fuel production or local food processing as a result of the awards.
Sec. 3. AGRICULTURAL BIOFUEL PRODUCTION REFERENCE
(a) On or before January 31 of each year starting in 2007, the agency of agriculture, food and markets shall prepare an informational manual to serve as a basic reference guide for Vermont farmers seeking to invest in and develop agricultural biofuel production. The manual shall include:
(1) A summary of current biofuel production opportunities, including a specific emphasis on crops or biomass commonly harvested or found in Vermont;
(2) An estimate of the market potential for biofuels in Vermont and nationally;
(3) A general estimate of the cost to a farmer of the technology, materials, and resources necessary to initiate biofuel production;
(4) An inventory of the federal and state financing or tax incentives for biofuel production;
(5) An index of corporations, businesses, organizations, and governmental agencies that provide biofuel production consulting services or expertise;
(6) A catalogue of corporations and businesses manufacturing biofuel production equipment; and
(7) Other explanatory material and data which will aid farmers in obtaining biofuel production expertise, preparing biofuel production plans and budgets, and purchasing capital equipment necessary for biofuel production.
(b) The agency of agriculture, food and markets shall, from time to time, confer with interested persons in order to maintain the manual required by subsection (a) of this section in a form most useful to Vermont farmers.
Sec. 4. APPROPRIATION
(a) The amount of $300,000.00 is appropriated to the agency of agriculture, food and markets for the purpose of awarding agricultural production grants under Sec. 2 of this act.
(b) The amount of $30,000.00 is appropriated to the agency of agriculture, food and markets for the preparation of the biofuel production reference manual required by Sec. 3 of this act.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street