Vermont Food System Plan Brief Highlight
Agroforestry Product Brief
The Vermont Food System Plan Product Brief on Agroforestry describes the multiple benefits provided by the deliberate management of trees, crops, and livestock in one area to enhance the health and economic viability of cropland and pastureland. Agroforestry practices can help farmers increase the viability of their existing businesses as well as to adapt to climate change. Currently, the infrastructure and markets for agroforestry in Vermont are limited. There are no nurseries to provide stock or adequate processing, manufacturing, or storage facilities for agroforestry products. There is also a lack of research and extension services in this area, as well as an overall gap in awareness and knowledge of the practices and benefits of agroforestry.
- Agroforestry can create new jobs in processing, education, manufacturing, distribution, maintenance, and technical services, as well as provide a pathway for farmers to receive payments for ecosystem services.
- One of the key barriers to adoption of agroforestry practices by landowners is the lack of guidance in the state’s Current Use program.
- More research and Extension demonstration programs are needed to raise farmers’ awareness about the potential of using agroforestry practices.
- Infrastructure development is needed to boost the production and marketing of agroforestry products.
- Education and awareness of the benefits of agroforestry are limited amongst foresters, technical service providers, and the public.
Recommendations include: creating a Vermont Agroforestry Research & Extension Center, to research techniques, demonstrate successes, and train farmers and foresters; providing farmers with a combination of low-interest loans and grants for on-farm diversification that includes adding new agroforestry enterprises; and creating a payment-for-ecosystems services program and other farm financial incentives. Additionally, Vermont should be supporting the development of processing and storage facilities where agroforestry products can be turned into value-added products, and state agencies should work together to create guidance that clarifies which agroforestry practices qualify for the Current Use program. Vermont-specific practice standards should also be established by NRCS for silvopasture, ally cropping, and forest farming.