Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky today announced that the State Bond Commission is anticipated to approve at its upcoming meeting an allocation of $500,000 that will be used to continue the Department of Agriculture's Farm Reinvestment Program, which provides matching grants to farmers to expand or improve working farms in accordance with business plans to keep the farms working for at least ten years.
"The Farm Reinvestment Program is an excellent example of how the state can help businesses grow and prosper on a long-term basis," Governor Malloy said. "Agriculture contributes $3.5 billion to Connecticut's economy, and the proposed investments will help our farmers strengthen their businesses and add to the 20,000 jobs that their industry already provides."
Pending approval of the commission, grants of up to $40,000 will be provided, with grantees matching or exceeding the award amount. It is anticipated that these funds will leverage more than $1,100,000 of farmers' funds. The grantees have up to one year to complete the project, according to the terms of their contract. Eligible projects include expansion of existing agricultural production facilities, diversification or expansion into new areas of production, and site improvements or diversification.
Past projects funded through the program include animal staging pens, a grain mixing room, hay loft facilities, and a walk-in meat freezer for a livestock farm in Barkhamsted; a greenhouse for vegetable transplants at a produce farm in Northford; a tie-stall barn at a dairy farm in Goshen; and a building for plant potting and cuttings at a tree farm in West Suffield.
According to Commissioner Reviczky, this year the Department of Agriculture has received applications for similarly diverse projects. Among them are a cow health and handling facility at a dairy farm; new greenhouses for year-round production of tomatoes, mushrooms, strawberries, lettuce and tilapia; a processing and packaging facility at a poultry farm; and a syrup production house at a maple farm.
"These projects are part of our long-term strategy to strengthen and diversify farming in our state, making it more sustainable and profitable," Commissioner Reviczky said. "We evaluate each application carefully, making sure that there is a strong business plan in place and that the project is well thought out. We want to be sure that these investments are made wisely and will benefit taxpayers for many years to come."
Commissioner Reviczky pointed out that agriculture contributes not only to Connecticut's economy, but also to residents' quality of life, providing wholesome food, plants and flowers, forestry products, and fiber. It also preserves working landscapes that enhance the character of Connecticut, making it a desirable place to live and to visit.
For more information about the Farm Reinvestment Grant Program, visit the Department of Agriculture's website, www.CTGrown.gov, and click on Program and Services.