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:
The Department of Agricultural Resources expects to announce an open application period for the Farm Viability Enhancement Program by early April 2016 and applications will be due by late June 2016. 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 on: Farm Viability Enhancement Program Request for Response 16-23 . This application is posted for informational purposes only and will not be accepted if submitted.
Farm Viability Enhancement Program Results as of June 30, 2015
During Fiscal Year 2015, the Farm Viability Enhancement Program provided technical assistance to 9 farms with 9 completing business plans. Of these, 9 farms received funding and were placed under Agricultural Covenants protecting 1,441 acres. The Program impacted an additional 1,833 acres of leased land and protected land under participant management. FY2015 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, 471 farms have been selected to participate in the program. A total of 404 farms have now been protected by Covenants and received grant awards.
The 404 farms that have participated in the Farm Viability Enhancement Program result in:
- 39,805 acres placed in protective covenants; 38,850 acres were impacted (additional acreage leased or used by participant farms.)
- A total of 78,655 acres of Massachusetts farmland have been impacted by the Farm Viability Program.
- Total of grants paid to participant farms $17,671,472. Total spending on grants per acre placed in protective covenant: $444 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 2015, 9 of the 9 participants invested $782,962 in additional capital or an average of $86,995 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.