Federal Disaster Declaration and Drought Resources Update
Drought conditions persist throughout the Commonwealth and the impact has been felt in many ways. State, local, and federal agencies and organizations have responded with a variety of assistance programs that growers should be aware of. Some require timely attention to documentation and filing deadlines. See below for some important relevant information that may be useful for your situation.
USDA Designates Massachusetts Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas
MDAR Press Release
Farms in Designated Counties Now Eligible for Financial Assistance
– September 20, 2016 – Under a recent declaration made by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 11 Massachusetts counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas and three counties as contiguous natural disaster area counties due to crop losses, particularly of tree fruits like peaches, caused by frost and freeze occurring between February and May. The counties with primary disaster designation are Barnstable, Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Worcester. The counties named as contiguous disaster counties are Dukes, Nantucket and Suffolk. This disaster designation makes farms in designated counties eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), including emergency loans.
“Massachusetts’ diverse agricultural industry has long been a vital part of the Commonwealth’s economy, creating good jobs and providing healthy, local food for residents,” said Governor Charlie Baker.
“We appreciate the United States Department of Agriculture taking steps to assist farms across the Commonwealth. I encourage farmers adversely impacted by this year’s extreme weather conditions to explore the USDA programs and the state’s Emergency Drought Loan Fund.”
“This year’s weather has been a great challenge to Massachusetts farmers; first with the winter freeze and now with a severe drought,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton.
“Despite that, our farmers have done a remarkable job at getting high-quality, nutritious food to market, and I urge Massachusetts residents to buy local to support our hardworking farmers.”
In addition to the designation as primary and contiguous natural disaster areas, the same 11 counties became eligible for the USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) as the result of the ongoing drought. The LFP program provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses on pasture land.
“Our livestock and dairy industry is a significant contributor to the state’s economy, contributing over $70 million dollars annually. We appreciate USDA implementing a program to address this specific sector,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux.
“In addition to seasonal harvests, consumers have year-round access to top-quality, Massachusetts-produced dairy and meat products.”
Farmers in the designated counties are urged to contact their local FSA county offices
for more information on the available programs.
Earlier this month, the Baker-Polito Administration announced
the launch of the Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund, which has the capacity to provide up to $1 million in micro-loans to family farms and other small businesses affected by widespread drought conditions in Massachusetts.
Drought Relief Programs for Massachusetts Farmers
From SEMAP News Release
Massachusetts State Programs
Mass Growth Capital Loan Fund
The new Massachusetts Drought Emergency Loan Fund will provide affordable working capital loans to small businesses, including family farms, grappling with a downturn in business caused by this prolonged drought. ," said Housing and Economic Development.
MGCC will make up to $1 million in loan funds available to provide micro-loans of $5,000 to $10,000 to farms located in communities impacted by the drought, particularly those in severely hit counties.
Federal USDA Programs
Livestock Forage Disaster Program
Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester Counties recently met qualifying drought ratings that ‘trigger’ eligibility for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program on improved pasture and native pasture.
The Livestock Forage Disaster Program provides compensation to livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire.
Emergency Conservation Program
Emergency Farm Loans
The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) helps farmers and ranchers to repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and to help put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought.
The ECP does this by giving ranchers and farmers funding and assistance to repair the damaged farmland or to install methods for water conservation.
When a tornado, flood, or drought strikes, or a quarantine is imposed by the Secretary of Agriculture, or when other natural disasters occur, FSA's Emergency loan program is there to help eligible farmers and ranchers rebuild and recover from sustained losses.
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program
NAP provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters.
Tree Assistance Program (TAP)
Orchardists, small fruit and nursery tree & shrub growers who experience losses from natural disasters during calendar year 2016 may be eligible for assistance under TAP, which is administered by the USDA - Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers must submit a TAP application either 90 calendar days after the disaster event or the date when the loss is apparent.
Local and Regional Programs
CISA Emergency Farm Fund
The CISA Emergency Farm Fund will offer zero-interest loans of $5,000-$10,000 each to Local Hero member farms and other farms that have been severely impacted by the drought in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Loans must be repaid within three years, with no payments required in the first year after receiving the loan. We anticipate that over $100,000 will be available in this round to assist drought-affected farms. The current application period closes on October 21, 2016 and decisions will be made within 20 days of receiving an application.
Archived IPM Berry Blasts are available at the UMass Extension Fruitadvisor website.
Where brand names for chemicals are used, it is for the reader's information. No endorsement is implied, nor is discrimination intended against products with similar ingredients. Please consult pesticide product labels for rates, application instructions and safety precautions. The label is the law. Users of these products assume all associated risks.
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This work was supported in part by funding provided by USDA-NIFA Extension Implementation Program, Award No. 2014-70006-22579