Massachusetts Farm Bureau Applauds Livestock Disaster Funding, Draws Attention to Need to Extend Assistance to Crops
MARLBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on September 16, 2016, that 11 Massachusetts counties have become eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA’S) Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) due to the drought. The counties included are Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester. This announcement means that eligible livestock owners may receive cost-share payments from USDA to help buy feed for animals.
“This is a good start in addressing problems that have resulted from drought,” said Ed Davidian, president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation and owner of Davidian Brothers Farm in Northborough. “Livestock farmers are hurting. There isn’t much grass in the pastures for animals to graze on. The little grain and hay they’ve been able to produce for the winter is, in many cases, being fed to animals now. Feed this winter will be expensive and supplies will be tight. “
Aside from the LFP, an emergency is in place for Essex, Franklin, Middlesex and Worcester Counties as they are adjacent to counties in New Hampshire that have been declared “primary natural disaster areas.” The same holds for Bristol and Norfolk counties abutting Rhode Island (make sure this is correct. Hampden too?) Farmers in these counties are eligible for federal loans.
In addition to USDA programs, the Baker Administration has put up $1 million for small loans to farmers throughout the state.
USDA programs that can still come into play would provide disaster payments to orchards, vineyards and hopefully cranberries. A broader disaster designation by USDA would also make loans available to vegetable growers.
“The Baker-Polito Administration continues to work with state, federal and agricultural stakeholders to address the adverse effect drought conditions are having on the Commonwealth’s agricultural industry,” said Energy and Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Through the tireless work of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, a partnership with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development now provides up to $1 million in micro-loans to family farms and other small businesses affected by widespread drought conditions in Massachusetts and coordination with the USDA FSA continues.
“As ongoing drought conditions persist, residents in all corners of the state are strongly encouraged to support the agricultural community by shopping local for food products in order to help provide relief for farmers who have faced negative impacts associated with this period of prolonged dry weather.”
“The bottom line” Davidian said, “is that without some assistance, there will be farms that go out of business. We appreciate the efforts of the Baker Administration and USDA. We’ve got some work ahead of us.”
Contact: Brad Mitchell, Director of Government Relations, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation, tel. 508-481-4766, fax 508-481-4768, 249 Lakeside Ave., Marlborough, MA 01752