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MassDevelopment and The Carrot Project Increase Money Available for Massachusetts Small Farms

April 25, 2011

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077
Dorothy Suput, The Carrot Project, 617-666-9637 & 617-910-8499

MassDevelopment and The Carrot Project today announced that the MassDevelopment/The Carrot Project Small Farm Loan Program has raised the maximum loan amount for eligible Massachusetts farmers. Qualifying farmers can now receive amounts ranging from $3,000 to $35,000, up from the former ceiling of $15,000. The funds help farmers finance capital investments and meet operating costs, and the increased funds available will better serve farmer demand. MassDevelopment and The Carrot Project jointly administer the program.

“This program fills a niche for farmers who could not access conventional financing,” said Executive Vice President of Finance Programs Laura Canter. “As more Massachusetts residents seek out fresh and quality produce as part of an ever-growing movement toward eating healthful, local food, we hope these funds will help farmers meet demand for their products.”

“We are excited to be able to raise the maximum loan amount to $35,000, which will more closely meet the needs of farmers who confront difficulty in accessing capital,” states Dorothy Suput, Founder and Executive Director of The Carrot Project.

Two Massachusetts farms have received loans through the program: America Agro in Greenfield, which used funds to improve a basil greenhouse in Deerfield; and Souza Family Farm in Rehoboth, which used funds for lower cost working capital covering operating expenses and renovating recently purchased property.

Farmers who own or lease farms in Massachusetts are eligible, with a focus on farms that have 250 or fewer acres under cultivation; report annual revenues of less than $250,000; and use or are moving toward organic methods. Capital investments covered in the loan include those that improve efficiency and quality, and those that expand farm production or sales. Other eligible expenses include repairs necessary to maintain farm operations; term operating needs such as inventory, supplies, or labor for expansion; and emergency funds in case of fire, natural disasters, or other unforeseeable events.

MassDevelopment, The Carrot Project, and Strolling of the Heifers launched the loan program for small farms in February 2010. In 2009, many Massachusetts farmers had seen crops ruined by heavy rain in June and July and extreme heat in August.

There are three application deadlines per year, with one each in winter, spring, and fall. The next application deadline is Nov. 4.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development authority, works with businesses, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2010, MassDevelopment financed or managed 238 projects in 104 communities across the state generating investment of nearly $1.4 billion in the Massachusetts economy.

The Carrot Project is a non-profit organization based in Somerville, Massachusetts, dedicated to creating financing solutions for small- and mid-sized farms, limited-resource farms, and those using ecologically sound practices. Its program model is designed to incubate and establish alternative financing programs in combination with business technical assistance. The Carrot Project works collaboratively with private investors, lenders, and farm support organizations to help rebuild a farming system that offers stability to local farmers, provides healthful food for citizens, replenishes the environment, and is good for regional and local economies.

For a prequalification questionnaire, visit www.thecarrotproject.org. For more information, e-mail info@thecarrotproject.org or call 617-666-9637.