Cover photo for Massachusetts Farm Viability Enhancement Program

Massachusetts Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP)

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

Closed April 26, 2022


The Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP) provides business planning and technical assistance to help established farms identify strategies to increase farm viability such as, new or expanded enterprises, increased productivity, marketing, and/or environmental sustainability. Participants selected to participate in the program may be offered grant funds of $75,000 to $150,000 to implement strategies identified during the planning process in return for signing an agricultural covenant on the farm property to keep it in agricultural use for a 10 to 15-year term. Eligible uses of funds are capital projects on the farm such as building or repairing barns, farmstands or other agricultural buildings, modernizing equipment, or improving food processing capacity.


Eligibility

  • Farm operations must have been in active use by the current operator for at least the three previous years and have generated at least $10,000 in gross farm income, as shown on Schedule F or Form 1120, or other relevant tax statements from the most recent tax year to be eligible to apply.

  • Farms must own at least 5 acres of land currently in active agricultural production.

  • Farms must intend to keep their land in continued agricultural use and the property to be put under covenant through the program must be unencumbered by any other restrictions on the deed.


Terms

The covenant is a deed restriction prohibiting any uses on the farm except agricultural uses. The covenant is recorded at the registry of deeds and prohibits activities detrimental to the agricultural use of the land for a specific term, either five, ten, or fifteen years. Rights retained by landowners include the right to privacy and to carry out regular agricultural practices, to maintain the farm in its present condition, and to construct or place temporary structures for agricultural uses. Prohibited uses include construction or placement of non-agriculturally related temporary or permanent structures, and non-agricultural uses on the land. Prior written approval may be requested for certain agricultural structures or uses that do not derogate from the intent of the covenant.

If selected for Phase I of the program, farmers must agree to participate in a business planning process intended to help them increase the economic viability of their farm. Participants receive assistance to develop a business plan or business plan update including financial projections. Additional technical assistance may also be available. This process usually takes about 5 or 6 months. Upon approval of a completed plan by the Department, the farm may be eligible to move to Phase II of the program to receive a grant for eligible capital projects identified in the plan intended to increase farm viability in return for placing land under a short-term a covenant to keep it in agricultural use. 


Application Instructions

To apply, applicants must submit a completed Attachment A Application Response Form signed by Applicants and landowners with the below required attachments:

  • Aerial photograph or map with your farm property outlined. (You may obtain copies of maps or aerial photos online, from an up-to-date NRCS conservation plan or contact your USDA-NRCS field office to request a map with advance notice.)

  • NRCS Farm Conservation Plan or Co-operator’s Agreement (requirement for cranberry farmers only)

  • Completed Attachment A-1 addendum (requirement for prior FVEP grant recipients only).

  • If an Applicant does not own the land they farm, a signed copy of an executed lease must be submitted along with the application that allows permission for the applicant to farm the land at least through June of 2023 and allows any proposed infrastructure to be constructed and used on the property. All applicants, including landowners, must sign this application.

All required attachments and full application information can be found in the current Request For Proposals.

Then submit the completed package by either Emailing as attachment(s) to Jill.Ward@mass.gov with subject: "FVEP APPLICATION"

OR

Mailing hard copies to the following address:

Farm Viability Enhancement Program

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

138 Memorial Ave, Suite 42

West Springfield, MA 01089

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Updated April 15, 2022

Image Credit: Sean

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