EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll were in Easthampton Thursday to announce the start of a new fund to support Massachusetts farmers in the wake of last week’s catastrophic flooding.
The Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund was established in partnership with the United Way of Central Massachusetts and will exist in perpetuity to help the Massachusetts farming industry withstand impactful weather events.
“We hope to raise an awful lot of money that we can get out quickly, nimbly, rapidly, strategically to farms that have been injured, devastated because of the flooding in the last two weeks,” said President and CEO Tim Garvin of United Way of Central Massachusetts.
“These farmers need the money now. We cannot wait for federal funding, which we will pursue, we will pursue state funding, but right now everybody in Massachusetts has a chance to step up to be part of the team and support men and women who for generations, some of them have been out there working hard getting after it to deliver for families across this state,” said Governor Healey.
Businesses and individuals are able to donate and other philanthropic organizations, like the Community Foundation of Western Mass, have pledged to help. The fund went live at 6 a.m. Thursday and by noon it was up to more than $50,000.
Initial estimates put the damage incurred by these floods at $15 million. Farmers 22News spoke to said they will apply for grant money through this fund.
“Sure, we certainly will. It’s been a significant loss for us, probably approaching a half a million dollars,” said Timothy Smith, owner of Apex Orchards.
Co-owner Bernie Smiarowski of Teddy Smiarowski Farms in Hatfield said he lost 150 acres of potatoes, “This is my third time experiencing flooding… 1984, 2011 and now this year. Knowing something is there going forward is important, you know, to all farmers.”