For Immediate Release - August 25, 2009

Patrick Administration FY 2009 Investments to Diversify and Modernize Massachusetts Farms Totaled Nearly $1 Million

BOSTON - Keeping with Governor Deval Patrick's commitment to preserve Massachusetts farms, the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) today announced the administration has targeted nearly $1 million toward agricultural economic viability projects in rural areas during FY 2009, while preserving 1,626 acres of farmland with five- or ten-year covenants.

"Massachusetts has seen more than a 27 percent increase in the number of farms and farm revenue since 2002, an impressive figure given the challenges presented by suburban sprawl, rising energy costs, and global competition," said Commissioner Scott Soares. "The Patrick Administration is making sure that agriculture remains a vibrant enterprise in the Commonwealth."

DAR's Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP) develops business plans to help farmers diversify and modernize their operations. Farmers who implement the business plan recommendations and keep their farms in agricultural use for a five- or ten-year period are eligible for DAR funding. In addition to giving farmers tools to improve their bottom line, the funding also helps stimulate local economic activity through construction jobs and purchases of equipment and materials.

"My customers have given me lots of positive feedback on the improvements to my retail greenhouse space and new parking lot," said Chicopee vegetable grower and farm market operator Bill McKinstry, whose farm also recently celebrated its 100 th anniversary. "We were able to offer a greater selection of plant material this season and parking is more efficient and safer."

Farms are evaluated and selected for FVEP based on the number of acres being considered; the current intensity of land use on the farm; the farm's significance and contribution to the state's agriculture industry; the productivity of the land based on soil quality, physical features and location; the operator's agricultural experience; whether the farm has diversified into retail or value-added activities; and the degree to which continuation of agriculture is threatened by other land uses such as development. DAR also assesses environmental objectives that would be accomplished through the program.

Funded Projects include:


Belchertown

Austin & Austin LLC, 135 acres preserved; $75,000
Constructed a storage barn/workshop, and improved marketing


Deerfield

Barway Farm, Inc.,15 acres preserved; $50,000
Repaired water well and farm water system, constructed a heifer barn and made other improvements


Plainfield

Crowell Farm, 32 acres preserved; $50,000
Made addition to dairy barn, constructed a bunker silo pad and made other improvements


Williamsburg

Dufresne's Sugar House, 22 acres preserved; $50,000
Purchased farm equipment and made other improvements


Leyden

Sunny Dell Stables, 90 acres preserved; $50,000
Stall expansion project, constructed three run-in sheds, purchased haying equipment


Northampton

Jasinski Farm, 80 acres preserved; $50,000
Purchased and installed 36-foot five-ring grain bin, a 50-foot, six-inch augur with motor, and a grain dryer


Townsend

King Farm, Inc., 87 acres preserved; $50,000
Purchased and installed a Lochnivar Power-Fin Boiler and a radiant heating system


Deerfield

The Bars Farm, 43 acres preserved; $50,000
Purchased a tractor and loader, and purchased and installed a greenhouse,


Ware

Letendre LLC, 219 acres preserved; $25,000
Purchased rotary hay rake, steel body for hay wagon, and hay elevator/conveyor.


Rutland

Mason, William and Nicole, 10 acres preserved; $25,000
Purchased sap vacuum pump, completed access road construction and made other improvements


Chicopee

McKinstry Market Garden, Inc., 35 acres preserved; $50,000
Improved parking lot conditions, installed fencing for the parking lot and greenhouse and made other improvements


Westhampton

Outlook Farm, 26 acres preserved; $50,000
Purchased and installed a UV cider pasteurizer and bulk tank, completed the repair of the cider press, upgraded apple conveyor and washer, and other improvements


Holland

The Shepherd's Gate, 7 acres preserved; $25,000
Constructed a 30-foot by 80-foot goat barn and purchased a tractor with front-end loader


Gilbertville

Clover Hill Farm, 277 acres preserved; $100,000
Silo renovation project and purchased haying equipment


Dracut

Shaw Farm Dairy Inc., 20 acres preserved; $75,000
Purchased a walk-in cooler, and milk bottle filler


Spencer

Bear Hill Farm, 58 acres preserved; $50,000
Made electrical updates, installed a new water well, made upgrades to the milk room/parlor, and constructed a new base pad and base for the silage pit


West Stockbridge

Cone Brook Farm, 68 acres preserved; $50,000
Constructed a hay storage barn and herd housing building


Chester

Neil Toomey Tree Farm, 371 acres preserved; $75,000
Purchased a forestry trailer with log loader, mower

The FVEP is one of several programs within DAR's Division of Agricultural Technical Assistance (DATA), the mission of which is to provide technical assistance, training and funding to promote economically viable and environmentally sound agricultural practices in Massachusetts. Other DATA services include funding for environmental enhancement projects, technical assistance for energy conservation and renewable energy initiatives, development and promotional assistance for aquaculture producers and business training for beginning and established agricultural producers.

For more information on the Farm Viability Enhancement Program, click here.

For information on the Division of Technical Assistance programs, click here.

The DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.