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 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, 2014
During Fiscal Year 2014, the Farm Viability Enhancement Program provided technical assistance to 10 farms with 10 completing business plans. Of these, 9 farms received funding and were placed under Agricultural Covenants protecting 1230 acres. The Program impacted an additional 779 acres of leased land and protected land under participant management. FY2014 spending was $650,000 in direct grants to farms and over $75,000 was spent on technical assistance costs to consultants and business plan writers.
Since the Farm Viability Program was initiated in 1996, 462 farms have been selected to participate in the program. A total of 395 farms have now been protected by Covenants and received grant awards.
The 395 farms that have participated in the Farm Viability Enhancement Program result in:
- 38,364 acres placed in protective covenants; 37,017 acres were impacted (additional acreage leased or used by participant farms.)
- A total of 75,381 acres of Massachusetts farmland have been impacted by the Farm Viability Program.
- Total of grants paid to participant farms $17,021,472. 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 $38,000 per farm.
- For FY 2014, 9 of the 9 participants invested $626,720 in additional capital or an average of $69,636 per farm.
- Improvement projects for the year included: 2 farm stand expansion projects with one adding a new commercial kitchen, 2 livestock barns and 2 storage barns, 2 farms purchased refrigerated delivery vehicles and 2 bought field equipment, and one farm had each of the following purchases and improvements - dairy processing equipment, a greenhouse, a cranberry processing building, and a packing shed improvement project.