GUEST BLOG POST: By the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is accepting applications from farmers who wish to participate in these Department programs in Fiscal Year 2016.  Interested farm operators are encouraged to review these options on the web pages of the Department found at www.mass.gov/agr/ (Click on Grants and Funding Programs under Quick Links in right hand column) or call contacts listed below for each program for more information.

Farm Viability Enhancement Program

This popular business planning and technical assistance program provides management advice and grants from $25,000 up to $100,000 to implement farm growth and sustainability strategies.  Farm operators receive grant awards for signing a 5 or 10 year Agricultural Covenant, and receive valuable consultations and visits from a team of consultants to discuss farm production and management, marketing, and business planning. Typical uses of funds from the Farm Viability Program include building or repairing farm structures, modernizing field equipment, purchasing delivery vehicles and tractors, and improving retail marketing structures or food processing capacity.

Applications and program information are available online at the Agricultural Resources web site listed above, or you can request a copy of the application by calling the Farm Viability Program at 617-626-1725.  The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, June 23, 2015.  

APR Improvement Program – for APR farms

The APR Improvement Program (AIP) helps sustain active commercial farming on land that has already been protected through the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program.  AIP provides technical assistance and business analysis to improve farm productivity and profitability of APR farms selected to participate in the program. Grants from $25,000 up to $100,000 may be available on a reimbursement basis to implement identified on-farm infrastructure improvements.  AIP funds are used primarily for capital improvements, such as constructing or repairing barns, farm stands, livestock housing, or processing facilities; or land management, such as reseeding hay fields, pasture improvements, fencing, or establishing perennial crops.

AIP applications and program information are available online at the Agricultural Resources web site listed above, or by calling the APR Improvement Program at 413-268-8269.  The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, June 23, 2015.

MEGA – Grant Program For Beginning Farmers in MA

The Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture Program (MEGA) seeks to help farmers who have been in business for at least one, but no more than five years, acquire equipment and other non-land assets, or make infrastructure improvements, that can help insure the financial viability of their commercial farm businesses. Priority will be given to new farms that can use program investment to increase farm production, marketing, and income.  Matching funds of up to $10,000 is available on a cost reimbursement basis to implement improvement strategies after individual business review and analysis provided by the Department.

MEGA applications and program information are available online at the Agricultural Resources web site listed above, or you can request a copy of the application by calling the MEGA Program at 413-559-0949.  The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday, June 23, 2015.

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