- Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
Media Contact for Governor Healey Signs Supplemental Budget Delivering $20 Million in Farm Relief
Karissa Hand, Press Secretary
Boston — Governor Maura T. Healey signed a supplemental budget that makes $20 million available to support Massachusetts farms that have been impacted by severe weather in 2023. The fund will be administered by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. The administration is working to stand up a grant program to get relief out as soon as possible.
“In the days following the heavy rainfall and severe flooding the devastated so many Massachusetts farms, the Lieutenant Governor and I went directly to the farmers and promised them that we would get them relief,” said Governor Healey. “Just weeks later, we are proud to have delivered on that promise on multiple fronts – securing $20 million in state aid, supporting a philanthropic relief fund and receiving a federal natural disaster designation. I am grateful to the Senate President, Speaker and legislative leadership for prioritizing and providing this relief. Team Massachusetts has come together in a big way to support our farmers, and I am deeply grateful for the partnership of agencies across our administration, the State Legislature, the federal delegation, the Biden Administration and the philanthropic community.”
“We are so inspired by the resilience of our farming community, and we’re proud to be able to support them just as they support Massachusetts families and our economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “This relief will be critical for helping farmers get back on their feet and make up for the losses they’ve endured during this tough season.”
“I’ve spent the past several weeks out in the field, connecting with farmers and identifying ways we can support them,” said MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle. “As a fifth-generation dairy farmer myself, I understand how devastating this year has been for our famers, but I also know that they are strong in the face of adversity. Our farmers should know that our administration and the Legislature have their backs. I’m incredibly grateful to the Legislature for delivering such fast relief and empowering the Department of Agricultural Resources to assist the farming community.”
“This year’s weather has been nothing short of catastrophic for our Commonwealth’s farmers, wiping away a season’s worth of labor and revenue in a matter of days. Regardless of the district we represent or the community we live in, in the Senate we pride ourselves in coming together when a community needs it most, and we were proud to do so in this case by proposing $20 million in relief funding,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “My sincere thanks to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for signing this initiative into law, to Senator Comerford for her unwavering advocacy, and to Senate members, Speaker Mariano, and our colleagues in the House for coming together to deliver this relief.”
“The funding that this supplemental budget provides for farms in the wake of severe, devastating weather not only ensures that they can endure, it also protects the services that farmers provide for Massachusetts families, along with the vital role that they play in the Commonwealth’s economy,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I want to thank the Healey Administration, Chairman Michlewitz and my colleagues in the House, as well as Senate President Spilka and our partners in the Senate, for prioritizing this critical support.”
"I am tremendously grateful that the Legislature is coming to the aid of our farmers in strong partnership with the Healey-Driscoll Administration,” said Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and Acting Chair of the Joint Committee on Agriculture. “The $20 million in the fiscal year 2023 supplemental budget will support farmers who have experienced massive hardships and losses, from extreme flooding earlier this month to the frosts and freezes earlier this year. Thank you to Senate President Karen Spilka and Chair Michael Rodrigues for their unwavering commitment to farms and farmers, both in the short and long term. Thank you to Representative Natalie Blais for your lasting partnership on behalf of our region. This unprecedented funding, coupled with the Farm Resiliency Fund stood up by the Administration, will be out the door in record time thanks to the Legislature's quick work and the leadership of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources."
“In recent weeks, we have stood alongside farmers in their fields to better understand their losses and to identify what assistance would be most helpful. I am proud to serve in a legislative body that is committed to supporting our Commonwealth’s farmers when they need us most,” said Natalie M. Blais (D-Deerfield), Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Agriculture. “The swift response of the Healey-Driscoll Administration, Speaker Ronald Mariano and Chair Aaron Michlewitz has been nothing short of extraordinary and I am grateful for the partnership of Senator Jo Comerford in supporting our constituents.”
“This is amazing! We were literally trying to figure out how to deal with this. We thank the Governor and the Legislature and appreciate that they are thinking of the farmers—all farmers,” said Maria Moreira of World Farmers. “This is going to affect people’s lives for a long time. It’s about agriculture. We really need the support. This shows that we are not invisible. We are here.”
Earlier this month, the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the United Way of Central Massachusetts (UWCM) announced the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund. The fund is a partnership between philanthropic organizations and private foundations intended to support Western and Central Mass farms impacted by recent flooding and strengthen farm resiliency in the long term. More information about the fund can be found here and at unitedwaycm.org/farmfund.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated seven Massachusetts counties as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by excessive rain and flooding from July 9 through July 16, 2023. The disaster declaration allows farms to apply for low-interest loans and refinance existing loans, effective immediately. In addition, farms can utilize the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), which is a cost-sharing program for debris and clean-up costs as they relate to natural disasters such as the flood and recent rain events. The seven counties are Berkshire, Bristol, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Norfolk and Worcester. Contiguous counties are also eligible. More information for farmers can be found here.
The supplemental budget signed by Governor Healey also included $180 million for financially-strained hospitals and extends authorization for racing and simulcasting until December 15, 2025.