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.
Farm Viability Program Applications Available:
The Department of Agricultural Resources has recently announced an open enrollment period for the Fiscal Year 2018 Farm Viability Enhancement Program. The deadline for applications is May 15, 2017. For more information and a copy of the application click on: Request for Response #AGR-FVEP 18 .
Farm Viability Enhancement Program Results as of June 30, 2016
During Fiscal Year 2016, 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 1,093 acres. The Program impacted an additional 589 acres of leased land and protected land under participant management. FY2016 spending was $650,000 in direct grants to farms and over $80,000 was spent on technical assistance costs to consultants and business plan writers.
Since the Farm Viability Program was initiated in 1996, 485 farms have been selected to participate in the program. A total of 417 farms have now been protected by Covenants and received grant awards.
The 417 farms that have participated in the Farm Viability Enhancement Program result in:
- 40,898 acres placed in protective covenants; 39,439 acres were impacted (additional acreage leased or used by participant farms.)
- A total of 80,323 acres of Massachusetts farmland have been impacted by the Farm Viability Program.
- Total of grants paid to participant farms $18,321,472. Total spending on grants per acre placed in protective covenant: $448 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 about $36,000 per farm.
- For FY 2016, 13 of the 13 participants invested $168,000 in additional capital or an average of $12,923 per farm.
- Improvement projects for the year included: 1 new poultry processing structure and value added kitchen, a new dairy processing facility, a new farm stand with farm kitchen, a robotic milking system, a new poultry housing structure, a farm store and farm kitchen renovation project, 1 delivery truck, 1 new sugarhouse, and 2 farms purchased new or updated field and haying equipment.