Leahy Secures More Than $23 Million For Vermont-Specific Projects In The Annual Agriculture Appropriations Bill

. . . Leahy Secured Funding To Establish Institute For Rural Partnerships And A National Farm To School Institute

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Aug. 5, 2021) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, on Thursday announced more than $23 million in Congressionally Directed Spending priorities for Vermont as the committee on Wednesday approved the Fiscal Year 2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, the annual budget bill for the Department of Agriculture and other agencies.

Leahy secured $5 million in the bill to establish a National Farm To School Institute at Shelburne Farms.  Shelburne Farms is already a national leader in Farm To School programs, and a national institute established there would provide technical and practical assistance to programs in Vermont and around the country.  The Farm To School program is another of the ‘born in Vermont’ ideas that Leahy has taken to Washington to expand nationwide.

Leahy said:  “Investing in the Farm To School program is an investment in the health and education of our children and an introduction to a lifelong understanding of the link between nutrition, agriculture and wellness.  Shelburne Farms has long been a nationally recognized leader in this field, and I am proud we have taken another step toward establishing a national Farm to School Institute right here in Vermont.”

Leahy was the original author of the Farm To School program in the 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.  In the last 11 years, the program has helped more than 30,000 schools adopt local and healthy meal options in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Leahy also secured $17 million in competitive grants for the program in the bill advanced on Wednesday.

Leahy also secured $10 million to establish an Institute for Rural Partnerships at the University of Vermont.  Rural states face unique challenges in everything from broadband connectivity to water quality, and the University of Vermont is leading the state and the nation on researching new ways to address these challenges.  The institute would enhance research at the University of Vermont and solidify its place as a leader in forging partnerships with public and private entities and establishing best practices to address the challenges facing rural communities.  The bill also includes $30 million in competitive programmatic funding for similar institutes.

Leahy said:  “I live in a small farm house in Middlesex, and like everyone who lives in a rural community, we face unique challenges that require unique solutions.  I am proud to support the collaborative research being done at the University of Vermont by advancing the Institute for Rural Partnerships.  The potential for such an institute to not only establish, but to nurture, key relationships among many partners throughout our state can bring much needed support and relief in times of crisis, uncertainty or need.”

Leahy also secured funding through the Congressionally Directed Spending process for the following Vermont projects:

  • $5 million for the Vermont Land Trust Farmland Futures Fund;
  • $500,000 for the Northern Forest Center to support infrastructure for the outdoor recreation economy;
  • $200,000 for the Town of Groton to support a community center waste water project;
  • $120,000 for the Rupert Village Trust to support the Sheldon Store restoration;
  • $543,000 for the Town of St. Johnsbury to support the Three Rivers Lamoille Valley Rail Trail project;
  • $600,000 for an expansion project at the Jeudevine Memorial Library in Hardwick;
  • $250,000 for the Richmond Land Trust to support replacement of the Gillett Dam; and
  • $108,000 for facility improvements at Catamount Film and Arts in St. Johnsbury.

Leahy, as the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, led in restoring the practice of Congressionally Directed Spending with new reforms and an unprecedented level of transparency.  More about these reforms is available here.  The Senate Fiscal Year 2022 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill will now be considered before the full Senate.  A full summary of the bill can be found HERE.

# # # # #