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Financial boost to agriculture, forestry products

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MARSHFIELD, Vt. -

A big financial boost for agriculture and forestry products. Vermont state officials awarded more than $750,000 to 16 organizations and businesses.

The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative was approved by lawmakers last year. Funding will be used for everything from a microbiology lab for cheesemakers at Jasper Hill Farm to upgrades at a Rutland wood pellet manufacturer.

"We in the state of Vermont are making an investment not only in the ag and food systems-- which we know well-- but were also making an investments in the forest economy and community in this state," Vt. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said.

"We recognize the importance of forest industries, but there are many complicating factors. It's very expensive-- in general wood is very heavy and so every aspect of processing is expensive given high fuel costs, high insurance costs, so there are just all these built up challenges to making a go in these businesses," said Mike Snyder, the commissioner of the Vt. Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

Lawmakers last session increased funding for the working lands enterprise up to $1.4 million. For a list grantees -- http://workinglands.vermont.gov/

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