PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION AWARDS IMPROVEMENT GRANTS FOR MASSACHUSETTS FARMS
WESTFIELD– Friday, May 31, 2013 – Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today, along with Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, awarded grants totaling $700,000 to 11 projects that will help farmers improve their farm operations. Governor Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Murray and EEA officials then toured Konsinski Farms in Westfield, which received a $75,000 grant to install a value-added fruit winery.
“The Massachusetts agriculture industry is an important piece of our economy and these investments will help local farmers continue to remain sustainable in a 21st century marketplace,” said Governor Patrick.
“Across western Massachusetts and throughout our Commonwealth, Massachusetts’ farms are an integral part of our communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “Today’s announced grants are another opportunity to preserve and protect our farmland, providing opportunities for growth today and for the next generation of farmers.”
Awarded through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (DAR) Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Improvement Program (AIP), grants went to farms in the communities of Cummington, Dartmouth, Dracut, Easthampton, Groton, Lanesborough, Rochester, Sunderland and Westfield.
The program helps sustain active commercial farming on land that has been protected from development through DAR’s APR Program. AIP provides technical assistance and business planning to improve farm productivity and profitability with the goal of enhancing the significance of APR farm operations and their contribution to the state’s agricultural industry.
“These grants will help support our local farmers in their efforts to ensure a sustainable future for their farms,” said Secretary Sullivan. “On behalf of the Patrick-Murray Administration, I am pleased to award these projects that will not only benefit the agricultural community, but the Commonwealth as a whole.”
Kosinski Farms is a 133-acre family farm that began operations in the 1930s. While they have diversified their operation over the years to include other crops like apples, strawberries, raspberries, sweet corn, pumpkins and squash, their signature item remains the same: blueberries. The AIP funds will be used to build a winery on the property to produce fruit wines, adding value to their blueberries and apple crop and making the farm an agri-tourism destination.
“Expanding farm productivity with these reinvestments in agriculture helps to retain or create private sector jobs and tax revenues, assists with the competitiveness of our farms and strengthens our farming industry,” said DAR Commissioner Greg Watson.
This year’s participating farms are located across the state and include orchards, vegetable farms, livestock operations, a vegetable and cranberry farm, a grain producer and a goat dairy.
Grant funds ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 per farm will be used for infrastructure improvements on APR farms such as a hay storage barn, new greenhouses, a vegetable packing facility with refrigeration, an energy-efficient grain dryer and high-density apple tree plantings.
Since 2009, the program has provided grant awards totaling more than $2.9 million to 44 farms with 6,462 total acres of protected APR land.
“I am pleased the administration continues to invest in the orchards, farms and producers across our state that feed and sustain its people,” said Senator Marc Pacheco. “These grants ensure the Commonwealth’s agricultural system will grow strong into the future.”
"Our farmers work so hard to make their farms productive and any assistance that they can receive is a benefit to all of us," said Representative Anne Gobi. "I thank Governor Patrick, Secretary Sullivan and Commissioner Watson for their continued commitment to one of our most important assets - agriculture."
Today’s grant recipients:
Hay and equipment barn
Packing and storage structure
Chicoine Family Farm
Farmstand, hay and equipment storage
Apple trees, drainage
Mt View Farm
Storage barn and farmstand
Equipment storage structure
Goat Dairy barn addition
Retail expansion, freezer