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Healey, Warren, Markey, Neal, McGovern announce 7 Massachusetts counties declared as natural disaster areas



BOSTON – Governor Maura Healey, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, Congressman Richard Neal, and Congressman Jim McGovern have announced the United States Department of Agriculture’s designation of seven Massachusetts counties as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by excessive rain and flooding from July 9 through July 16, 2023.

The disaster declaration allows farms to apply for low-interest loans and refinance existing loans, effective immediately. In addition, farms can utilize the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), which is a cost-sharing program for debris and clean-up costs as they relate to natural disasters such as the flood and recent rain events.

The seven Massachusetts counties designated as primary natural disaster areas are Berkshire, Bristol, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Norfolk and Worcester. Contiguous counties are also eligible, including Dukes, Middlesex, Plymouth and Suffolk. Contiguous counties in other states include Hartford, Litchfield, Tolland and Windham in Connecticut; Cheshire and Hillsborough in New Hampshire; Columbia, Dutchess and Rensselaer in New York; Bristol, Newport and Provide in Rhode Island; and Bennington and Windham in Vermont.

“Massachusetts farmers should know that their government has their backs. We’re grateful to Secretary Vilsack and the Biden Administration for expanding options for farms to get help after so many of them were devastated by heavy rain and flooding this month,” said Governor Healey. “Our administration is committed to using every option to deliver relief to farmers, including state aid, the launch of the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund, and additional efforts to secure federal assistance for municipalities and farms.”

“We estimate that 110 farms and 2,700 acres have been impacted by recent severe weather, with $15 million in losses – and we expect those numbers to continue to grow,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Ashley Randle. “We’re grateful to the Biden Administration for issuing this designation that provides more opportunities for farmers to receive assistance as they rebuild from this devastation. Our administration continues to be on the ground meeting with farmers and supporting in any way we can.”

“This USDA disaster declaration means immediate federal support for Western Massachusetts farmers ravaged by recent flooding, but we must do much more to invest in rural communities,” said Senator Warren. “Unlocking this federal funding will make a difference in farmer’s monthly bills through refinancing options at lower interest rates, and I’ll keep fighting hard for family farmers to thrive as an integral part of the state’s rural economy. I commend Governor Healey for her leadership, my Massachusetts colleagues in Congress for their support, and the Biden-Harris administration for its vital partnership.”

“I applaud USDA for heeding our call and providing communities across Western and Central Massachusetts the opportunity to access emergency funds in the wake of historic floods,” said Senator Markey. “This declaration will unlock resources to help farmers and their families rebuild. But this is only the first step. We need to match the resilience of these communities with climate resilience so we can better protect farmers and our food systems for generations to come. I am proud to have worked with Senator Warren, Congressman McGovern, and Congressman Neal to uphold that commitment and secure this critical declaration.”

“The farming community plays a prominent role in our regional economy, providing thousands of jobs and producing healthy, locally grown food for grocery stores, schools, and food banks throughout our community. This disaster declaration will quickly mobilize emergency assistance to western Massachusetts farmers, providing critical federal funds that will allow them to continue covering monthly expenses in the wake of this disaster,” said Congressman Neal. “I would like to thank the Biden-Harris Administration for swiftly approving this declaration, as well as the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their leadership and steadfast support of communities in western Massachusetts who continue their recovery efforts.”

“It was devastating to walk the flooded fields last month and see firsthand how crops have been destroyed and our local food system has been impacted,” said Congressman McGovern. “I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration and the USDA for hearing our calls and unlocking this funding to support our farms and farmers as they rebuild. This is an important step. But it’s the first of many we need to take to deal with the challenges our farmers are facing—especially as they build more resilient farms in the face of climate change. I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress and the Healey-Driscoll Administration as we fight to ensure that Massachusetts farmers have the tools and resources they need to grow healthy, nutritious food for generations to come.”

Earlier this month, the Healey-Driscoll Administration and the United Way of Central Massachusetts announced the Massachusetts Farm Resiliency Fund. The fund is a partnership between philanthropic organizations and private foundations intended to support Western and Central Mass farms impacted by recent flooding and strengthen farm resiliency in the long term. More information about the fund can be found here and at

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