August 01, 2023

Warren, Markey, McGovern, Neal Applaud USDA Disaster Declarations for Flood-Stricken Counties, Farmers in Western Massachusetts

Lawmakers Urged Department of Agriculture to Declare Disaster Zone to Support Local Recovery of Communities and Farmers after Flooding

USDA Letter to Governor Healey (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey and United States Representatives Jim McGovern and Richard Neal applauded the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) declaration of county disaster designations for seven counties in Western Massachusetts, following storms and floods that devastated communities and farmers in the region. USDA’s declaration follows the lawmakers’ July 21, 2023 letter requesting USDA issue this disaster declaration to give farmers and community members access to emergency funds for recovery. 

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) issued a primary disaster designation for seven Massachusetts counties: Berkshire, Bristol, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Norfolk, and Worcester counties, making farmers in these counties eligible to be considered for FSA emergency loans. 

“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 farmers’ 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.”

“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.”

“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.”