Leahy-Authored Farm Bill Provision Nets Millions For Northeast Kingdom

. . . Leahy-Led REAP Zone Designation Continues To Address NEK Needs, Now Topping $200 Million Since 2001

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Thursday that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) economic development investments in the Northeast Kingdom now total more than $9.1 million during 2017.

NEK-area businesses, nonprofits and municipalities received 36 awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development (USDA-RD) to assist with a diverse range of business assistance, infrastructure upgrades and energy efficiency improvement projects.  More than $5.5 million of the awards during federal fiscal year 2017 were made possible through the Rural Area Economic Partnership (REAP) Zone, a special designation secured by Leahy in the last Farm Bill. 

Leahy is a leading member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees USDA and handles the Senate’s work in writing Farm Bills, and he also now is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which annually appropriates funds for the USDA. 

Leahy said:  “These USDA investments are empowering local organizations and businesses to make our Vermont communities stronger.  The diverse nature of Rural Development’s programs mean that federal help can be pre-tailored to address distinct needs for each community.  As Congress begins writing a new Farm Bill in 2018, I’ll be focused on making sure that USDA-RD continues to have resources like these to invest in Vermont.”

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices.  These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers to improve the quality of life in rural areas.

Since 2001 Leahy has consistently and successfully fought to designate, and to renew, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont -- Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans Counties -- as a REAP Zone, a USDA RD designation recognizing the unique rural nature of a region that prioritizes the region’s grant applications.  Successfully designated in the 2014 Farm Bill, the Northeast Kingdom REAP Zone is one of only four regions nationwide designated as REAP Zones by USDA-RD, an arm of USDA focused on helping rural communities thrive.  The designation gives applicants to some of USDA RD’s 40 grant and loan programs access to a reserved set of funds only available to REAP Zones.  Leahy worked with the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative, a group of economic and community development organizations from across Caledonia, Essex and Orleans Counties, to create Vermont’s REAP Zone.

Since the creation of the NEK REAP Zone, USDA has invested more than $200 million in Caledonia, Essex and Orleans Counties.




Town of St. Johnsbury


Vermont Sun Ltd.


Northern Community Investment Corp.


Town of St. Johnsbury


Ceneter for an Agricultural Economy


Permanent Fund for VT Children


VT State Colleges


Kaufman, Bruce


South Royalton Food Cooperative


Center for an Agricultural Economy


Heartbeet Lifesharing Corp.


Gilman Housing Trust


Lyndon Institute


St. Johnsbury Athenaeum


Town of St. Johnsbury


Town of St. Johnsbury


NE Kingdom Travel and Tourism Assoc.


Northern Forest Center, Inc.


Northern Community Investment Corp.


Northern Community Investment Corp.


VT Council on the Arts


VT Housing and Conservation Board


Canaan Fire District #1


Troy School District


Town of Charleston


Barton Village, Inc.


Vermont Farm-to-School


Forestville Foundation, Inc.


Town of Newport


Kingdom Brewing


Highland Lodge 2016, LLC


City of Newport


The Art House, Inc.


Asa H. Searles dba Ellie's Sugarhouse


Gilman Housing Trust






Canaan Fire District #1

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David Carle: 202-224-3693