Although COVID-19 response efforts are a high priority, the Vermilion Economic Development Alliance (VEDA), is also working on an exciting project aimed to evaluate and support the cattle/beef industry in Vermilion.

VEDA began speaking with individual producers and the boards of both the Vermilion Cattleman’s Association and Vermilion Parish Farm Bureau last year in anticipation of the USDA Rural Business Development Grant deadline. On the line were dollars to support agricultural enterprises in the state. VEDA feared the project was dead when they got the initial notification that funds were allocated to other organizations.

“We worked hard on our application, but we didn’t provide a financial match – a factor used in evaluating projects. We were hoping to bring dollars to the community without using the money earmarked for business retention and recruitment activities. But we stuck with it and stayed in communication and to our surprise and delight, the Delta Regional Authority stepped in and partnered with USDA to fund 100% of our project!” commented Anne Falgout, VEDA’s Executive Director.

The $30,000 is funding two phases. The first is a survey of existing cattle producers.

“Our team of researchers is getting amazing results. They are introducing the project scope and spending time recording the history and needs of individual farmers and the industry as a whole,” says Falgout. “We are getting great information and excitement from our respondents. We couldn’t be happier with the progress.”

The next step involves turning over the results to an analyst. In this phase, survey responses and statistical information will be used to evaluate the programs, funding, and infrastructure improvements necessary to preserve the rich tradition of Vermilion’s cattle industry. VEDA will also receive best practices, recommendations, and obstacles that will need to be tackled to grow beef-related businesses in the parish.

“We hope to have our results by this time next year and then we can begin implementing the recommendations,” Falgout says. “We’re excited about celebrating and preserving our rural identity through this and future projects.”

For more information, or to be included in the survey process, please reach out to VEDA via email – info@developvermilion.org, or by calling (337) 418-9849.