Senator Patrick Leahy Thursday announced more than $23 million in Vermont spending in 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. 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.
He also secured $10 million to establish an Institute for Rural Partnerships at the University of Vermont. 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,” a statement from Leahy said. The bill also includes $30 million in competitive programmatic funding for similar institutes.
Leahy also secured funding 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.