The Farm Viability Program seeks to improve the economic viability and environmental integrity of participating farms through the development and implementation of farm viability plans. The Program offers farmers environmental, technical and business planning assistance to expand, upgrade and modernize their existing operations. Capital for the implementation of the improvements recommended in the viability plan is available in exchange for an agricultural covenant on the farm property for a fixed term of five or ten years.
The Department of Agricultural Resources expects to announce an open application period for the Farm Viability Enhancement Program by early April 2014 and applications will be due by late June 2014. RFRs (Request for Responses) and the policy information they contain do change from year to year. If you would like to see a copy of the last Farm Viability Program application click here: Farm Viability Application . This application is posted for informational purposes only and will not be accepted if submitted.
Farm Viability Enhancement Program Results as of June 30, 2013
During Fiscal Year 2013, the Farm Viability Enhancement Program provided technical assistance to 14 farms with 14 completing business plans. Of these, 13 farms received funding and were placed under Agricultural Covenants protecting 862 acres. The Program impacted an additional 560 acres of leased land and protected land under participant management. FY2013 spending was $650,000 in direct grants to farms and over $105,000 was spent on technical assistance costs to consultants and business plan writers.
Since the Farm Viability Program was initiated in 1996, 452 farms have been selected to participate in the program. A total of 386 farms have now been protected by Covenants and received grant awards.
The 377 farms that have participated in the Farm Viability Enhancement Program result in:
- 37,134 acres placed in protective covenants; 35,656 acres were impacted (additional acreage leased by farms or land already in the APR program for which business plans were developed).
- A total of 72,790 acres of Massachusetts farmland have been impacted by the Farm Viability Program.
- Total of grants paid to participant farms $16,371,472. Total spending on grants per acre placed in protective covenant: $441 per acre.
- 73% of farmers in the Program invest additional capital beyond the grant amount to implement business improvement strategies. The average additional investment is $31,791 per farm.
- For FY 2013, 12 of the 13 participants invested $367,000 in additional capital or an average of $30,583 per farm.
- Improvement projects for the year included: 2 farm stand expansion projects, 2 cranberry bog water management systems, 3 new livestock/hay barns, 5 projects with new or used equipment purchases (tractors, delivery van, and field equipment), a cheese cave, a vegetable processing and packing building, livestock fencing, and replanting a section of orchard.