CISA offers more interest-free loans for Pioneer Valley farms

  • Chickens roam in Reed Farm’s pasture in Sunderland. The farm was among 13 to receive a total of $183,000 in loans during the first round of funding from CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/8/2020 1:30:31 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) has opened the second round of its Emergency Farm Fund, offering more loans to aid farms throughout the Pioneer Valley that have been affected by the global pandemic.

“It is the first time in this century that we are experiencing a pandemic that literally affects every single farm,” CISA Executive Director Philip Korman said. “Farms have lost existing markets and need to implement new safety practices. Our aim is to provide support in places where we see gaps in current programs, both public and private. We need to protect our local food supply and keep our local farms farming.”

The fund offers no-interest loans of up to $25,000 to farmers who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to meet their immediate financial needs that result from market fluctuations, closures and other changes.

During the first round of funding, CISA, which teamed up with Franklin County Community Development Corp. (CDC), distributed $183,000 in loans to 13 farms in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. An additional $217,000 is now available. Applications for this round of funding can be found at buylocalfood.org, and are due June 22.

“This new partnership means the fund could make larger loans available to more farmers,” Franklin County CDC Executive Director John Waite said. “In an unprecedented crisis like this, it’s more important than ever to look for new ways to work together and to leverage all available resources.”

The fund was launched in 2011 in response to the damage suffered by farms in western Massachusetts because of Hurricane Irene. Korman said this is the first time the fund has been tapped into during a non-weather-related crisis.

The Emergency Farm Fund is managed by CISA, and loans are administered jointly by CISA and the Franklin County CDC. There is a review committee that includes people with a variety of agricultural backgrounds, including farmers, CISA staff and board members, and representatives from the Franklin County CDC, PVGrows Investment Fund, Equity Trust and the state Department of Agricultural Resources.

For more information, call 413-665-7100 or visit buylocalfood.org.

 


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