Sen. Gobi and Rep. Blais secure $500,000 for Statewide Program to Help Farms Thrive

  • ANNE GOBI

  • Natalie BLAIS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/31/2020 3:59:54 PM
Modified: 7/31/2020 3:59:49 PM

BOSTON — On Friday, Gov. Charles Baker signed into law a supplemental spending bill that includes $500,000 for statewide Buy Local organizations to continue efforts to expand consumer purchasing of locally grown food that supports local agriculture and farms. The funding was secured through budget amendments offered by State Sen. Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer) and State Rep. Natalie M. Blais (D-Sunderland).

“At a time where so many families are struggling with food and financial insecurity, investing in organizations that provide nutritious food directly to those most needing is key to ensuring their long-term stability,” commented Sen. Gobi, Senate Chair on the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. “This funding benefits not only our citizens who are looking to put a healthy meal on the table, but our farmers who may be suffering from decreased economic activity as well.”

In FY07, the Legislature provided funding for the original four Buy Locals. Since then, the Legislature has supported an increase in funding to $500,000 annually to grow the number of Buy Locals to cover every region in the state. The necessity of their work has only increased during the COVID19 pandemic as Massachusetts farms endeavor to identify new customers and/or maintain the customers they have gained.

Massachusetts is home to 7,241 farms on 491,653 acres. Almost 26,000 people are directly employed by farms, generating over $475 million in agricultural goods. In the state, 94 percent of the farms are small and 80 percent are family or individually owned, with the average farm producing $65,624 worth of agricultural products on 68 acres.

“During this pandemic, farms have come through with food for our families. What is vital is that we keep this direct commerce going between farms and communities even as the challenges continue. The efforts of Sen. Gobi and Rep. Blais, the Legislature and the Administration will go a long way to fund these economic connections throughout the Commonwealth,” said Phil Korman, Executive Director of CISA.

“When we invest in farm businesses we are strengthening food security and the local economy of our communities. We are grateful for the funding and will work to ensure that the customers who turned to their farmers when grocery store shelves were bare, continue to buy from their farmers long after this pandemic is behind us,” said Mackenzie May, Executive Director of Central Mass Grown.

Direct market sales are a key feature of the state’s agriculture industry. Massachusetts ranks fifth in the nation for direct market sales with over $100 million annually, and ranks 3rd in the nation for direct market sales per farm at $55,384. Direct market sales are 21.1 percent of the state’s total sales of agricultural products — the highest proportion of any state in the country.

The geographic areas represented by Buy Locals include Connecticut River Valley and the hill towns (Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin counties) and Central Massachusetts (Worcester County).

More information about the Buy Local program can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/servicedetails/buy-local-groups.


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