SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – All four counties of western Massachusetts have been included in the latest disaster declaration by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The declaration allowed farmers from Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden Counties to apply for low-interest loans as well as refinancing for existing loans. They can also utilize the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), which helps pay for cleanup costs following a natural disaster. Farmers can learn how to apply for these disaster recovery programs here.
“Massachusetts farmers should know that their government has their backs. We’re grateful to Secretary Vilsack and the Biden Administration for expanding options for farms to get help after so many of them were devastated by heavy rain and flooding this month,” said Governor Healey. “Our administration is committed to using every option to deliver relief to farmers, including state aid, the launch of the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund, and additional efforts to secure federal assistance for municipalities and farms.”
Bristol, Norfolk and Worcester Counties are also included in the disaster declaration. Excessive rain and flooding between July 9 and July 16 caused many farmers to lose crops and fields, especially those along the Connecticut River.
“We estimate that 110 farms and 2,700 acres have been impacted by recent severe weather, with $15 million in losses – and we expect those numbers to continue to grow,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Ashley Randle. “We’re grateful to the Biden Administration for issuing this designation that provides more opportunities for farmers to receive assistance as they rebuild from this devastation. Our administration continues to be on the ground meeting with farmers and supporting in any way we can.”
“This declaration will unlock resources to help farmers and their families rebuild. But this is only the first step. We need to match the resilience of these communities with climate resilience so we can better protect farmers and our food systems for generations to come. I am proud to have worked with Senator Warren, Congressman McGovern, and Congressman Neal to uphold that commitment and secure this critical declaration,” said Senator Markey.
“The farming community plays a prominent role in our regional economy, providing thousands of jobs and producing healthy, locally grown food for grocery stores, schools, and food banks throughout our community. This disaster declaration will quickly mobilize emergency assistance to western Massachusetts farmers, providing critical federal funds that will allow them to continue covering monthly expenses in the wake of this disaster,” said Congressman Neal.
“It was devastating to walk the flooded fields last month and see firsthand how crops have been destroyed and our local food system has been impacted,” said Congressman McGovern.
Recently, the Healey-Driscoll Administration announced the start of the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund to support Massachusetts farmers in the wake of July’s catastrophic flooding.