Press Release

Welch Celebrates Announcement of New USDA RD Technical Assistance Pilot Program for Vermont Communities Impacted by Natural Disasters 

Apr 26, 2024

MONTPELIER, VTU.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) joined Sarah Waring, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director for Rural Development VT/NH and  USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dr. Basil Gooden yesterday to announce $1,000,000 in new federal funds for a technical assistance pilot program that will help Vermont communities build capacity for response and recovery to natural disasters – such as summer 2023’s brutal flooding.  

USDA RD is funding a partnership between the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VCLT) and the State of Vermont that will support municipalities with direct one-on-one technical assistance as well as resources and curriculum to build skills to manage federal funds.  

“In the moments after a natural disaster, the last thing our municipalities have is the time to navigate the intricacies of the federal government. Vermont knows that all too well, which is why our Delegation advocated for more flood recovery funding and pushed to enhance the tools our communities have on-hand to respond to disasters,” said U.S. Senator Peter Welch. “The USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration delivered for Vermont and is partnering with the State and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns on this critical resiliency program, which will help us recover and rebuild after last summer’s floods. I am thankful for Under Secretary Basil Gooden and State Director Sarah Waring’s leadership and the entire USDA RD team for their work on this new model, which will help rural communities in our state.” 

“I grew up in a small town,” said Sarah Waring, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director for Rural Development (RD). “I’ve seen the late nights and long hours that our volunteer municipal leaders put in—in a normal year. But when disaster strikes, many of our towns simply miss out on the opportunity to use federal funding because of the time and expertise needed. I am so proud to work for the Biden-Harris Administration, where creativity to address rural America’s biggest challenges is encouraged. Today’s announcement marks an additional opportunity to rebuild Vermont’s economic and community infrastructure with expert guidance from the ground up, and we hope it will stand as a model for other states to follow.” 

This funding is sourced from RD’s Disaster Assistance Fund and follows on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments in economic recovery, including the Inflation Recovery Act (IRA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)

Uses of these technical assistance funds may include: 

  • Providing one-on-one training and technical assistance to municipal officials who manage budgetary issues with FEMA applications and reimbursements. 
  • Building out a formal education program in government finance for treasurers, administrators, managers, and legislative body members.  
  • Building government finance expertise through networking, mentoring and formal and informal learning opportunities with partners such as Vermont Clerks and Treasurers Association, Vermont Government Finance Officers Association and more. 
  • Developing model templates and best practices to be used in disaster response, such as tip sheets on available assistance from FEMA, USDA, SBA, etc. 
  • Coordinating with regional planning and development corporations and service providers through the Municipal Technical Assistance Program.