Farmer News – October 2020

Taken from our October 2020 Farmer Newsletter. Didn’t get it in your inbox? Sign up/update your preferences now!

A Message to Our Farmers:

As the busy growing and harvest season of this unpredictable year slowly draws to a close, SEMAP has some tidbits you should know. In this post, you’ll find information on:

  • Food Security Infrastructure Grant award announcements
  • The 2020 Drought in Massachusetts
  • SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant applications
  • Massachusetts Dept. of Transitional Assistance’s new HIP Map
  • Agritourism Study Commission meeting
  • Massachusetts Farm Bureau’s Bear and Deer Crop Damage Survey

We hope your autumn season has gone as smoothly as possible, and are looking forward to seeing you soon – either in person or on screen!
Please call if you have questions: (508) 524-2601
Or email: kschwalbe@semaponline.org

Food Security Infrastructure Grant Updates


The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources released an additional $5.5 million in Food Security Infrastructure Grants on September 30th. This marks the third round of grant announcements in the $36 million program, which funds food infrastructure improvements such as increased harvest storage capacity, produce wash stations, refrigeration, and delivery vehicles.

About one-third of all 1,353 applications were submitted within the last two days of the deadline on Sept. 15—more applications than any other state program at any point. The unexpected volume of applications has slowed the review process. Currently, rounds four and five are being reviewed together, with an expected total of eight rounds in all. The October 15th deadline will extend to the later part of November. All applications will receive a response either way.

The Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Agriculture understand the delayed review process will make for a tight timeline for farmers finishing their projects by the original June 2021 deadline. Farmers who succeed in getting a grant and have issues completing their projects by the original timeline may request extensions on their projects until June 2023. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Successful grants will have to go through the contracting process with the Commonwealth. Remember: no money can be spent on the project until you have a fully executed contract.

Learn more here.

Massachusetts Drought 2020

Andrew Thornhill of of Silverbrook Farm in Dartmouth featured in SouthCoast Today last month.

This season’s drought has been tough on farmers across the state, and Southeastern Massachusetts is no exception. Summer 2020’s hot, dry conditions may result in delayed fall planting, reduced yields and undersized produce.

SEMAP wants to help you. Let us know how we can assist in your drought management/mitigation strategies, from technical assistance to government-level advocacy.

Email kschwalbe@semaponline.org to get in touch.

SARE Farmer Rancher Grant


The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program is offering Farmer Rancher Grants to commercial farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects. Applications are due by December 3!

Learn more here.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Round 2


The USDA is accepting applications for an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through December 11, 2020. CFAP Round 2 will provide producers with financial assistance that gives them the ability to absorb some of the increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. CFAP 2 follows the first round of CFAP, which had an application period of May 26 through September 11.
Learn more here.

Agritourism Study Commission Meeting

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources will be holding a public meeting of its Agritourism Study Commission on Monday, October 19 from 1–2:30 p.m. This commission was created through legislation (H.4962) to better understand the issues around agritourism, create recommendations and report to MA’s legislature.

SEMAP Executive Director Karen Schwalbe sits on the Agritourism Study Commission. If there are agritourism issues that you would like brought to the Study Commission’s attention, please reach out and let us know what the issues are.

The meeting will be open to the public and information will be posted at this link.

Bear & Deer Crop Damage Survey

The Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council is working to arrange a meeting with the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board to discuss crop damage from bear and deer in Massachusetts. To gain a full overview of crop damages, the Council is requesting information on damages including farm name and location. Please fill out the quick survey on the Farm Bureau’s web site.

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