McGovern Announces $64,000 to Support Western Mass. Farmers
As Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) starts the second day of his 6th annual farm tour today, he announced that a $64,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be provided to Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) to help farmers and ranchers in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts to learn more about programs and support from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).
“When farmers in Western Massachusetts succeed, our economy grows and our community thrives. This grant is a smart investment that will help to keep our local farmers connected with the USDA so they have access to the tools and resources they need to grow,” Congressman Jim McGovern said. “I am grateful to have the USDA as a strong partner as we continue to support farmers across Western Massachusetts.”
The funds, in the form of a cooperative agreement, were announced at a producers’ roundtable in Greenfield during a two-day farm tour organized by Congressman Jim McGovern, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. He was joined at the roundtable by Brad Pfaff, FSA Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs, Washington, DC; Jonathan D. Niedzielski, FSA State Executive Director; and Christine Clarke, Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist.
“We’re working to reach more farmers in Massachusetts who have not used or been aware of opportunities provided by FSA programs,” said Pfaff. “This cooperative agreement with CISA will get the word out to a new generation of producers. Our disaster assistance, income safety-net and lending programs can help farmers succeed, especially when challenged by unforeseen downswings in the weather or markets.”
“Twenty-eight percent of total sales by Massachusetts farmers are ‘direct market,’ meaning straight from the farmer to the local consumer,” said Niedzielski. “Our producers are also very good at adding value to their products at the farm, packaging and marketing their produce, which puts more money into their pockets in direct sales. This agreement will help connect farmers with FSA here in Massachusetts so they can get the help they need to grow their operations.” FSA, which solicited applications last fall, received more than 100 proposals that requested more than $9 million in funding. Nearly $2.5 million will go to nonprofits, associations, universities and foundations that will provide training and information on agricultural best practices, local networking opportunities and more. A list of awardees can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/outreach.
Today’s announcement augments Obama Administration efforts to support new and small farm operations in Massachusetts. Earlier this month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new investment of $17.8 million for 37 projects across the country to help educate, mentor and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers.
One of those is a three-year, $595,000 grant to CISA to reach about 600 new farmers and ranchers with technical workshops and other assistance. CISA’s goal is to “double the amount of local food in the diets of Pioneer Valley residents by 2035.” That investment is made through USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $126 million into projects targeting new and beginning farmers and ranchers through BFRDP.
Founded in 1993, CISA serves the primarily agricultural Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts. The region is home to the cities of Springfield, Chicopee and Holyoke, the academic communities of Amherst and Northampton, rural towns and suburban communities.
Supporting direct market farmers is part of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative, which coordinates the Department's work to develop strong local and regional food systems. Under the Obama Administration, USDA has invested close to $1 billion in 40,000 local food-related projects on farms and in communities across the country. Access the KYF2 Compass to locate USDA investments in your community.
Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. USDA has also provided $5.6 billion of disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like to Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit.
USDA has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; extending new conservation opportunities; offering appropriate risk management tools; and increasing our outreach, education and technical support including 102,000 direct and guaranteed farm operating and ownership loans. USDA has also provided more than 18,000 microloans totaling over $406 million since the program began in January 2013. Nearly 89 percent of microloans, or more than $363 million, were used by new, beginning and underserved farmers to grow their farming operations. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.