USDA Rural Business Administrator Judy Canales joined State Director Jay Healy recently for discussions about, and tours of, three Rural Development financed projects currently underway in Massachusetts. Their first stop was at Berkshire East Ski Area in Charlemont, where the Administrator led a roundtable discussion about USDA’s renewable energy initiatives and celebrated the installation of a new, 900kW wind turbine at the ski area.
Rural Development provided Berkshire East a loan guarantee through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The funds were used, in conjunction with commercial financing through Greenfield Savings Bank and State Clean Energy Center grants, to purchase and install the wind turbine at the family-owned ski area. Read more »
Late last week Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan attended the Working Lands Alliance’s Tenth Anniversary Conference at Yale University.
While there, the Deputy Secretary announced that a total of $207,000 in funds from the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program (RBEG) will be provided to several organizations around Connecticut to improve economic opportunities in the area.
About an hour’s drive from three of New England’s largest urban areas, “the Last Green Valley” is an area of fields, forests and rugged hills. Forest and farmland make up 78 percent of its 695,000 acres.
Merrigan said The Last Green Valley, Inc., a non-profit organization Congress designated to manage this nationally recognized area, has been selected to receive a $28,000 RBEG to create a website to help farmers locate educational information, business assistance and marketing opportunities. The organization was also selected to receive a second $28,000 RBEG to create a “mastering the business of agriculture” educational program where farmers will receive classroom instruction on how to create effective business plans. The funding announcements build on previously announced support provided by USDA Rural Development for the area.
Working Lands Alliance’s Tenth Anniversary Conference, held at Yale University. (left to right): Connecticut State Conservationist (NRCS) Doug Zehner; MA/CT/RI Rural Development State Director Jay Healy; Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Chairwoman of the Agriculture-FDA Appropriations Subcommittee, Deputy Sec. Merrigan, and Connecticut Ag Commissioner F. Philip Prelli.
Submitted by Maril Alsup Stockwell, USDA Rural Development