Home Posts tagged Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund
Opinion

Opinion

By Philip Korman

 

The widespread flooding that hit our region in mid-July illuminates many truths: the vulnerability of many local farms, the hard reality of climate change, and the amazing response that is possible when the community, nonprofit and foundation partners, and government all step up and work together.

Current estimates are that more than 100 local farms were affected by the floods and that they lost a combined $15 million in crops — but long-term effects are still being counted. The flooding came on the heels of two freezes that damaged peach, blueberry, and apple crops, and was followed by continued heavy rains that deluged even non-flooded fields. As our climate changes, these extreme weather events will become more common.

The response — from the generosity of individual donors to the speed with which our state government has acted — has been stunning. The governor signed a supplemental budget that includes $20 million in disaster relief to cover crop losses. The Emergency Farm Fund at Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) is offering no-interest loans up to $25,000 to affected farms, and a recent disaster declaration will make low-interest federal loans available too.

What is missing is money to cover all the other losses that farms have suffered, including the destruction of property and equipment. The new Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund can help fill this gap, and it has set an ambitious fundraising goal of $5 million to quickly get grants to farms.

Farmers are resilient, and they are adapting to their new reality — but they will need continued support and a robust emergency-response system as the climate changes. You can support them, as always, by buying local, and you can help build up the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund now so it’s there in the future. Learn more at buylocalfood.org/helpfloodedfarms.

 

Philip Korman is executive director of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — The Healey-Driscoll administration and the United Way of Central Massachusetts (UWCM) announced the creation of the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund, 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. Officials made the announcement Thursday at Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, which had much of its crop destroyed by flooding.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources estimates at least 75 farms have been hurt by flooding, with about 2,000 acres in crop losses at a minimum value of $15 million. That number will likely climb as more damage is assessed and the longer-term impacts set in.

“As the lieutenant governor and I have visited farms across the state, we’ve been deeply moved by the devastating impacts we’ve seen and heartbreaking stories we’ve heard,” Healey said. “We’re grateful to our philanthropic and private partners for quickly answering the call to action and creating this fund to deliver relief directly to farmers. This is about team Massachusetts, where we come together to support farmers and their livelihoods, build resilience for our farms and food supply, strengthen our economy, and create a stronger future for our children and families.”

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Ashley Randle added that, “for generations, our farms have been part of our cultural heritage and the fabric of our local communities. As heartbreaking as it has been to see our farming community hit hard this past week, I’m truly inspired to see the community step up and rally around our farmers with this partnership that will bring much-needed relief.”

To ensure farmers can begin recovery as quickly as possible, all funds will be distributed rapidly by the United Way through a deliberate selection process. Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and private foundations, including the Eastern States Exposition, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, have already announced their support.

“The Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund is a most beautiful demonstration of real partnership, united in compassion and united in purpose to support and assist our farmers,” said Tim Garvin, president and CEO of United Way of Central Massachusetts. “We at United Way are proud to be partners in this effort. We are hopeful that many will be inspired to contribute.”