BOSTON — MDAR is accepting applications from Massachusetts farmers who wish to participate in one of these Department programs that help with farm viability in Fiscal Year 2024. The Request for Responses (“RFR”s) containing program details and the application form is posted on COMMBUYS and can be accessed through a link on each program website below. If you would like an application mailed to you, contact the program coordinator listed. The due date for applications for all three programs is Monday, May 1, 2023.
Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP) – for established farms. This program provides business planning and technical assistance to develop or update a business plan for established commercial farms that own and operate unrestricted farmland. In return for a short-term covenant to keep the land in agricultural use, operators may be eligible for grants to implement capital projects on the farm that have been identified in the business plan completed through the program. Grant levels are up to $75,000, $120,000, or $165,000, depending on the size of the farm and acreage protected, in return for a 10 or 15-year term covenant. Uses of funds will vary depending on the needs of the farm – examples include, but are not limited to, new or improved livestock barns or farm stores; purchasing delivery vehicles, tractors, or haying equipment; constructing food processing or storage facilities.
The RFR with FVEP details and application is available at: Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP) | Mass.gov or contact Laura Barley at Laura.Barley@mass.gov or 413-726-2008.
APR Improvement Program (AIP) – for APR farms. This program helps sustain active commercial farming on land that has already been protected through the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program. AIP provides business planning and technical assistance to farmers selected to participate in the program and grants may be available to implement identified capital improvements on the farm to increase productivity and profitability. Grant levels are up to $60,000; $90,000; or $125,000 depending on the size of the farm and acreage under APR, available on a cost reimbursement basis with a required 20% match contribution. AIP funds are used primarily for capital improvements to farm infrastructure such as new or improved buildings for equipment, hay storage, livestock housing, farm stores or processing facilities; or resource improvements for agricultural use, such as orchard renovations or perimeter fencing.
The RFR with AIP details and application is available at: APR Improvement Program (AIP) | Mass.gov or contact Diego Irizarry-Gerould at Diego.Irizarry-Gerould@mass.
Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture (MEGA) – for beginning farmers. This program provides business planning and technical assistance, and grant funds may be available on a one-to-one matching cash reimbursement basis. Funds may be used for equipment, infrastructure, or other capital improvements identified through the business planning process that will have a positive impact on the participating farm’s viability. Common uses of MEGA grant funds include, but are not limited to, greenhouses, barn renovations, tractor implements, chicken coops, farmstands, and refrigerated trucks.
Expanded eligibility and grant levels in FY2024 – MEGA now assists beginning farmers who have been in business at least one (1) and no more than ten(10) years and are developing their farms into commercially viable operations. Grant levels are up to $10,000, $20,000, or $30,000, based on the number of years the farm has been in business, minimum gross income, and whether the farm has received a prior MEGA award. Prior MEGA participants may be eligible to apply for a second award – see the Request for Response (RFR) for details. The RFR with MEGA details and application is available at: Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture (MEGA) | Mass.gov or contact Jess Camp at Jessica.Camp@mass.gov or 617-823-0871.
–Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)