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Healey-Driscoll Administration Celebrates Massachusetts Agriculture Day with over $3 Million in Grants to Support Farmers 

BostonToday, Governor Maura Healey declared April 3, 2024, as Massachusetts Agriculture Day. As part of the celebration, Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll announced over $3 million in grants to support Massachusetts farmers through programs that improve composting efforts, food safety, cranberry bog restoration, stewardship, and business planning.

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner Ashley Randle also announced the formation and inaugural members of the Massachusetts Agricultural Youth Council. Comprised of high school seniors, the Ag Youth Council will cultivate and foster the next generation of leaders in the agriculture industry in Massachusetts.

Organized by the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation and MDAR, Massachusetts Agriculture Day at the State House celebrates the agricultural industry and gathers farmers, producers, and commodity groups from across the Commonwealth to showcase the richness and diversity of Massachusetts grown products, allowing legislators and officials the opportunity to sample locally produced food and crops and learn more about important issues directly from farmers.

“This Ag Day we’re celebrating our farmers who work tirelessly throughout the year to grow and produce a diverse, healthy food supply to feed residents across Massachusetts. Last year, I witnessed the resilience of our farmers as they worked to recover from a series of devastating severe weather events,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Our administration stands in support of the agricultural industry and will continue provide farms with resources to increase production and help reduce food insecurity.”

“Strong, flourishing farms contribute so much more than the food that they produce. They catalyze economic benefits that go beyond the agricultural sector,” said Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll. “Providing direct funding to our farmers through these programs ensures our vibrant industry continues to produce the highest quality food. These grants demonstrate our commitment to the agricultural industry and goes a long way to ensuring this sector thrives.”

“These programs showcase our commitment to supporting our farmers at all stages in their businesses,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “Whether just starting out, taking the reins from a previous owner, or working to secure their continued longevity, our MDAR grant opportunities can enhance sustainability for farms.”

 

Agriculture Youth Council

MDAR selected 12 high school students to serve on the council. The group will meet monthly to discuss agricultural issues, hear from guest speakers from the agricultural industry, learn about the legislative process and workforce development opportunities attend special events and tours, and enhance their professional skills. The inaugural members of the Agricultural Youth Council are:

  • Noorhan Al-Dulaimi - Shrewsbury (Shrewsbury High School)
  • Tammy Anderson - Boston (Norfolk County Agricultural High School)
  • Susan Barrows - Upton (Nipmuc Regional High School)
  • Amanda Cooper - Ipswich (Malden Catholic High School)
  • Michaela Jardine-Yeats - Lunenburg (Lunenburg Middle & High School)
  • Shayn Jones - New Bedford (Bristol County Agricultural High School)
  • Colleen Kielbania - Ipswich (Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical High School)
  • Miru Kunst - West Boylston (Norfolk County Agricultural High School)
  • Haley-Ann Lynch - Southwick (Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School)
  • Brooke Macjewski - Grafton (Norfolk County Agricultural High School)
  • Ana Carolina Maloon - Salem (Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical High School)
  • Carolinne Rodriguez - Beverly (Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical High School)
  •  

“Being a fifth-generation dairy farmer, I was fortunate to have mentors to teach, guide, and empower me. The creation of the Ag Youth Council will go further - in bringing together future Massachusetts agricultural leaders to nurture their skills so that the next generation will have the tools to succeed in this everchanging field,” said MDAR Commissioner Randle. “Our administration is committed to supporting beginning farmers and providing them with resources they’ll need to start and grow an agricultural business.  Youth engagement and workforce development is necessary to the future of our state’s agriculture industry, and I look forward to working with this first class of students.”

 

Grant Funding

MDAR is awarding over $3 million in funding to 74 farms through the Agricultural Composting Improvement Program (ACIP), the Agricultural Food Safety Improvement Program (AFSIP), Cranberry Bog Renovation Grant (CBRG) Program, Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture (MEGA) Program, and Stewardship Assistance and Restoration on APRs (SARA) Program. These programs will help to improve and strengthen their operations in the short and long term.

“On the Cape and Islands, our farmers and aquaculturists bolster our local economy and allow residents to access fresh and healthy food,” said Senator Julian Cyr (D – Cape and Islands). “I am thrilled that ten farms on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard will receive funding through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. These monies will ensure food safety, help renovate cranberry bogs, and support the vitality and vibrancy of our coastal agriculture industry.”

The Agricultural Composting Improvement Program (ACIP) funds equipment and projects to improve agricultural composting practices and facilitate the use of compost as a valuable soil amendment on farms. MDAR provides technical assistance to farms conducting agricultural composting and encourages farms to utilize compost as a soil amendment or manure management tool. The following are the Agricultural Composting Improvement Program grant recipients for FY2024: 

Farm Name

Site City

Project/Purchase

Award

Breton Meadow Farm

Lincoln

Compost spreader

$5,562.00

Dickson Farm

Princeton

Compost spreader

$7,410.00

Fivefork Farm

Upton

In-vessel composting unit, site preparation, and compost spreader

$43,443.00

Mt. Toby Farm

Becket

Windrow turner and compost spreader

$38,441.00

Global Village at Tuckaway Farm

Grafton

Compost screening equipment and compost spreader

$16,502.00

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

Beverly

Windrow turner, windrow covers, and compost spreader

$40,636.00

Skalbite Family Farm

Monson

Compost spreader

$10,424.00

 

The Agricultural Food Safety Improvement Program (AFSIP) allows produce and aquaculture operations to address food safety on their farms. It enables the operations to meet buyer demands, increase local food consumption, and protect public health by reducing food safety risks. The following are the Agricultural Food Safety Improvement Program grant recipients (Round 1) for 2024: 

Farm Name

Site City

Project/Purchase

Award

Lookout Farm, LLC

Natick

Plastic Apple Bins; Stainless Steel Packing Tables

$22,840.00

Elliot Farm, LLC

Rochester

Harvest & Storage Bins

$11,262.00

Blue Stream Shellfish, LLC

Fairhaven

Ice Machine; Refrigeration; Shed

$23,620.00

Honeysuckle Oyster Farm

Edgartown

Oyster tumbler; Generator; Sump Pump

$15,147.00

Atlas Farm, LLC

Deerfield

Rinse Conveyor

$19,773.00

Natural Roots Farm

Conway

Washing & Packing Upgrades

$38,244.00

Aquacultural Research Corporation

Dennis

Refrigerated Delivery Van

$50,000.00

Husselton Head Oysters

Vineyard Haven

Oyster tumbler

$6,520.00

Round Island Shellfish

Fairhaven

Insulated Vats

$2,744.00

Orr's Farmstand

Westport

Washing, Packing, Storage Building w/Walk-In

$50,000.00

Teddy C. Smiarowski III Farm

Hatfield

Harvest Bins

$50,000.00

Red Fire Farm

Montague

Root Washing Equipment; Greens Packing Equipment

$42,855.00

Copper Beech Farm, Inc.

Mattapoisett

Ice Machine; Insulated Vat

$7,417.00

East Dennis Oyster Farm

Dennis

Ice Machine; Walk-In Condenser & Evaporator

$17,486.00

Sweet Little Farm

Amherst

Walk-in Cooler

$11,877.00

 

The following are the Agricultural Food Safety Improvement Program grant recipients (Round 2) for 2024: 

Farm Name

Project/Purchase

Award

Brox Farm, LLC – Dracut

Washing Station

$39,000.00

C A Dowse & Son, Inc. – Sherborn

Stainless Steel hydro-feeder for apples

$32,000.00

Cape Harvest Oysters - Marstons Mills

Oyster Tumbler

$3,500.00

Clarks Island Oyster, LLC – Plymouth

Oyster Tumbler; Roof Cover

$37,215.00

Fay Mountain Farm – Charlton

Walk-in Cooler

$30,000.00

J&J Farms – Amherst

Wash Line; Bins

$18,000.00

Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm – Lincoln

Harvest Bins; Pallets; Fencing

$11,000.00

Sobieski's River Valley Farm – Whatley

Walk-In; Packing Facility Upgrades

$41,000.00

The Neighborhood Farm, LLC – Westport

Well for Greenhouses

$14,000.00

Twenty Acre Farm & Greenhouses – Hadley

Walk-In; Wash Line; Bins; Tables

$44,000.00

Waynes Hayes Seafood – Hyannis

Automated Oyster Grading Machine

$50,000.00

World Farmers Inc. dba Flats Mentor Farm – Lancaster

Washing Stations

$48,000.00

 

 

The Cranberry Bog Renovation Grant Program provides reimbursement to cranberry operations that implement projects that improve both bog design and production while preventing, reducing, or eliminating negative environmental impacts that may occur from cranberry production. By funding these projects, the program enhances the cranberry industry's overall financial and environmental sustainability. The following are the Cranberry Bog Renovation Grant Program recipients for FY24:

Cranberry Operation

Renovation

City

Award

Eagle Holt Cranberry Co., Inc.

Bog Renovation on 11 Acres

Wareham

$125,000.00

Beaton's, Inc.

Bog Renovation on 2.29 Acres

Rochester

$57,250.00

WM Couto Cranberry

Bog Renovation on 2.5 Acres

Berkley

$54,869.00

State Rd Lot 52-44-57 Realty Nominee Trust

Bog Renovation on 3 Acres

Plymouth

$75,000.00

Fresh Meadow Farm

Bog Renovation on 2.9 Acres

Carver

$72,500.00

Johnson Cranberries, LLC

Bog Renovation on 5 Acres

Middleboro

$125,000.00

Mills River Cranberry Corporation

Bog Renovation on 3 Acres

Marstons Mills

$65,284.00

Meadow Street

Bog Renovation on 5 Acres

Carver

$97,088.00

Rocky Maple Bogs

Bog Renovation on 5 Acres

Wareham

$125,000.00

Miller Cranberry Co., Inc.

Bog Renovation on 5.18

Kingston

$78,670.00

WJM Cranberries

Bog Renovation on 1.7 Acres

Middleboro

$42,500.00

Red Eye Cranberry, Inc.

Bog Renovation on 3.2 Acres

Middleboro

$64,562.00

H.M. Riggle

Bog Renovation on 3 Acres

Rochester

$75,000.00

Cape Cod Cranberry Realty Trust

Bog Renovation on 2 Acres

W. Barnstable

$49,500.00

Ross Cranberry, LLC

Bog Renovation on 2 Acres

E. Sandwich

$42,750.00

Sleepy Hollow Cranberries

Bog Renovation on 7 Acres

Rochester

$99,857.00

S K Wainio Bogs, Inc.

Bog Renovation on 3.25 Acres

Carver

$81,250.00

Highland Cranberry Company, Inc.

Bog Renovation on 3 Acres

Lakeville

$75,000.00

SRD Real Estate, LLC

Bog Renovation on 1.43 Acres

Carver

$35,750.00

Eric & Elaine Weston

Bog Renovation on 5.75 Acres

Carver

$125,000.00

Weston Cranberry Corp.

Bog Renovation on 4.77 Acres

Carver

$119,250.00

Wilson Cranberry, LLC

Bog Renovation on 6 Acres

Rochester

$63,920.00

 

 

The Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture Program assists beginning farmers who have been in business for between 1 and 10 years by providing technical assistance (including a mentorship option) and business planning assistance. Grant funds of up to $30,000 may be available on a 1:1 matching cost reimbursement basis to assist farmers whose goal is to raise agricultural products and who are developing their farms into commercially viable operations. Funds are typically used for equipment, infrastructure, or other capital improvements to implement strategies identified during the planning process that will help their business grow. The following are the Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture recipients for 2024: 

Farm Name

Site City

Project/Purchase

Award

Husselton Head Oysters

Tisbury

Insulated cooler for transporting oysters

$10,000.00

Blue Stem Natives

Norwell

Pot-filling machine and forklift

$10,000.00

Sibling Organic Crops

Lakeville

Tractor

$10,000.00

Rattleroot Farm

Princeton

Tractor and installation of roll-up sides

$10,000.00

Mills River Cranberry Co.

Marstons Mills

Mowing equipment, water pump, tractor implements, and dump trailer

$30,000.00

Cottage City Oysters

Vineyard Haven

Outboard motor for existing work boat

$20,000.00

Sage Farm

Bernardston

Walk-in freezer and barn renovation for storing and distributing frozen pork products

$20,000.00

Revival Farm

Plympton

Bulk grain feeders, grain auger, mobile livestock shelters, water trailer, and tractor

$20,000.00

 

 

The Stewardship Assistance and Restoration on APRs Program helps restore active commercial farming on land that has protected through the Department’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program. Funds may be used for materials, contracted labor, or equipment rental costs to clear or reclaim inactive fields that are out of production at no fault of the current owner. Grant funds of up to $35,000 are available on a cost reimbursement basis with a 15% match of total project costs required by the awardee. The following are the Stewardship Assistance on APRs grant recipients for 2024: 

Farm Name

Site City

Project

Award

Dick’s Market Garden

Lunenburg

Clean-up of debris and trash from previous operation, restoration of road access onto property, and removal of invasive plants to restore vegetable production

$35,000.00

Hillside Farm

South Deerfield

Clearing of backfield edges of invasive growth, repairing a culvert for rear field access, and restoration of erosion areas

$35,000.00

JDF Enterprises LLC

Spencer

Reestablishment of farm road along field edge to decrease erosion and farmland reclamation by clearing field edges of invasive plants

$35,000.00

Kosinski Farms

Westfield

Soil restoration and repairing of ditches to address erosion and bring land back into production

$13,183.50

Lilac Hedge Farm LLC

Holden

Clearing of field edges and overgrown hedgerows to return crop fields to production by planting hay in order to feed livestock

$34,000.00

Slocum King Farm Inc.

South Dartmouth

Clearing of field edges of invasive plants, repairing of rock walls used with electric fencing as part of grazing system for small herd of beef cattle

$20,102.50

Samantha & Hale Staebner

Oxford

Restoration of inactive land by removing invasive plants on field edges and overgrown rockpiles within pastures

$30,302.50

The Lewis Family Farm

Westport

Clearing of field edges and overgrown hedgerows to return underutilized land to fully productive pasture for beef herd

$35,000.00

Upswing Farm LLC

Pepperell

Clearing of field edges of invasive plants to return areas of inactive land into production for their organic vegetable operation

$29,750.00

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