DEERFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Local farmers continue to feel the negative impacts of the torrential rains and floods we saw this summer, leaving their crops destroyed.
Congressman Jim McGovern was in Deerfield on Monday, along with State Senators Jo Comerford and Paul Mark, and several state representatives, to raise money for the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund.
This fund was created by the United Way of Central Massachusetts (UWCM) with the goal of responding to both the recent storm impact in western and central Mass and having long-term potential to respond to how our climate is affecting our farms.
22News spoke with both local farmers and leaders about what needs to be done… to make up for what was lost this summer. “It’s like the bumper sticker says, no farms, no food,” said Gary Bogoff, Berkshire Brewing Company Owner.
State Representative, Natalie Blais, Deerfield added how the Western Massachusetts community is stepping up to support local farmers. “This was a fund spear-headed by the Healey Driscoll administration, they have been so incredibly responsive,” expressed Blais.
This is as farmers continue to pick up the pieces after July’s record-breaking rain, the floods devastating their farmlands. “We wake up in the morning and you never know what mother nature is going to give you, and this year has been really tough,” said Peter Melnik, Barway Farm, Deerfield.
“A good friend of ours is a farmer and he lost about 100 acres during that big rain,” added Bogoff.
State data show that in late July at least 75 farms had been hurt by flooding with about 2,000 acres in crop losses, at a minimum value of $15 million. “A lot of them are ineligible for some of the federal programs that exist for the bigger farms, and that is just unfortunate and we need to change that,” said James McGovern, (D) Massachusetts.
And as communities and state leaders work together to help the farmers now, local leaders are also sounding the alarm that severe weather may be here to stay. “Last year was a drought, in February and May we saw a freeze, and now we are seeing floods,” expressed Blais.
“What we have been seeing not only here about across the country and all across the planet, isn’t normal,” said McGovern. “So we are fighting hard to get more resources to combat climate change.”
According to UWCM, this fund will help to support:
- Farmers and their families and their livelihood are affected by natural disasters
- Crops – the food that is grown locally that provides nourishment
- Children and Families, Seniors, and Veterans who use Food Banks and local food pantries to combat hunger and work toward food security
- The economy – of the region and the state. There are 7,241 farms in Massachusetts, comprising 491,653 acres and employing 25,920 people. These farms generate $475,000,000 for the Massachusetts economy.
Money that was raised during the event on Monday will help support Massachusetts farmers that were devastated by July’s record-breaking rain and flooding that impacted 2,700 acres of farmland across 100 farms and resulted in $15 million in crop losses. Applications are open for the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund.
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