The Healey-Driscoll Administration announced today the availability of an initial $15 million in funding from the Natural Disaster Recovery Program for Agriculture to Massachusetts farms that were adversely affected by one or more of the extreme weather events in 2023. This funding will provide financial relief to farmers impacted by the February freeze, May frost, and July floods so they can recover and rebuild their growing operations.
“The climate crisis is here and farmers are bearing the brunt of extreme weather. With the heavy losses that our farmers have recently suffered, it is critical for us to support their recovery efforts,” said Governor Maura Healey. “These funds will help ensure our farms have the resources to salvage a difficult year and come back stronger than before. We’re grateful to the Legislature for making these funds available to support our hardworking farmers.”
In early February, an arctic freeze plunged temperatures to subzero digits causing total damage to the stone fruit crop in Massachusetts, wiping out this year’s peaches and plums. In May, a series of frost events when the temperature dipped below freezing on multiple nights caused severe damage to many fruit crops including apples, pears, and grapes. In July, unprecedented rainfall caused catastrophic flooding in Western and Central Massachusetts impacting more than 2,700 acres of crops at more than 110 farms across the region.
“Our farms are key economic drivers in their local communities, contributing so much more than just the food and produce they grow,” said Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll. “A strong agricultural sector ensures job security, environmental resilience, and a robust local food system. It’s essential that our affected farmers receive the aid they need in order to ensure their future production capacity won’t be diminished by the recent natural disasters.”
“As evidenced by this year’s extreme weather events, climate change has caused overwhelming damage to our agricultural production in Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “This crisis underscores the importance of investments in resiliency and climate-smart agricultural practices, but we must also provide immediate relief to those who have been severely impacted by the effects of these recent natural disasters. This investment in our farmers provides a much-needed lifeline to allow them to survive through this challenging growing season.”
To be eligible to apply for these funds, a farm must be a commercial operation selling products to wholesale or direct to consumer markets and have suffered at least a 15 percent acreage crop loss from one or more of the three natural disasters in 2023.
“It’s been such a difficult year for our farming community but we know that in the face of adversity, our farmers remain steadfast and resilient,” said MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle. “Thank you to our partners in the Legislature for all their advocacy on behalf of the agricultural industry in Massachusetts. It’s truly been a collaborative effort to ensure the availability of the Natural Disaster Recovery Program for Agriculture which I know will bring real relief to our affected growers.”
“These dollars are going to make a real impact for farmers whose livelihoods were devastated by severe weather this year,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. “The Senate was proud to take quick action by proposing these funds upon seeing the extent of the damage and disruption to our economy this spring and summer, and I’m grateful for the support of the House and the Governor for making this relief a reality. I’m deeply thankful to the Administration, including the Office of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Agricultural Resources, for administering the funding, and I’m eager to see it support the recovery of one of our state’s major industries.”
“This funding will not only help farmers recover from devastating weather events, it will also protect the services that they provide for Massachusetts families, along with the vital role that they play in the Commonwealth’s economy,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano. “I encourage those affected to apply for the available funds, and I would like to thank the Healey-Driscoll Administration, and my colleagues in the House and the Senate, for approving this critical support.”
“I am thrilled that the Legislature, in partnership with the Healey-Driscoll administration, allocated $20 million in emergency relief funding to assist beleaguered farmers recover from their devastating losses earlier this summer,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues. “It is our duty as public officials to help working farmers continue to provide food to wholesale and consumer markets.”
“This critical funding stream will provide direct payments to farmers to cover losses, helping them to recover and remain a strong part of the local economy and our food system,” said State Representative Natalie M. Blais. Source : mass.gov