CISA offers more interest-free loans for Pioneer Valley farms

  • Chickens roam in Reed Farm’s pasture in Sunderland. The farm was among 13 to receive a total of $183,000 in loans during the first round of funding from CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) has opened the second round of its Emergency Farm Fund, offering more loans to aid farms throughout the Pioneer Valley that have been affected by the global pandemic.

“It is the first time in this century that we are experiencing a pandemic that literally affects every single farm,” CISA Executive Director Philip Korman said. “Farms have lost existing markets and need to implement new safety practices. Our aim is to provide support in places where we see gaps in current programs, both public and private. We need to protect our local food supply and keep our local farms farming.”

The fund offers no-interest loans of up to $25,000 to farmers who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to meet their immediate financial needs that result from market fluctuations, closures and other changes.

During the first round of funding, CISA, which teamed up with Franklin County Community Development Corp. (CDC), distributed $183,000 in loans to 13 farms in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties. An additional $217,000 is now available. Applications for this round of funding can be found at buylocalfood.org, and are due June 22.

The Emergency Farm Fund is managed by CISA, and loans are administered jointly by CISA and the Franklin County CDC. There is a review committee that includes people with a variety of agricultural backgrounds, including farmers, CISA staff and board members, and representatives from the Franklin County CDC, PVGrows Investment Fund, Equity Trust and the state Department of Agricultural Resources.

For more information, call 413-665-7100 or visit buylocalfood.org