Baker-Polito Administration Awards Almost $1 Million for Cranberry Farm Improvements

Lt. Governor Polito joined local and state officials to announce the Massachusetts Cranberry Bog Renovation Enhancement (MCRE) Grant Program funding to recipients across MA. (courtesy image)

MA DEPT. of AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $991,837 to 21 cranberry growers for bog renovation projects. The grants, awarded through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ new Massachusetts Cranberry Bog Renovation Enhancement Grant (MCRE) Program, will help renovate existing cranberry bogs, providing higher yields and more efficient methods of cranberry production for participating growers. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced the grants at Slocum Gibbs Cranberry Company’s cranberry bog in Rochester.

“The cranberry industry has been a vital part of the environment and economy of Massachusetts for over 200 years, and our administration is committed to working with cranberry growers to ensure the long-term viability of this industry,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This new grant program builds on the recommendations of the Cranberry Revitalization Task Force by providing support for cranberry growers to create more efficient bogs and improve their business and environmental sustainability.”

In 2016, Cranberry Revitalization Task Force’s final report included a recommendation to provide funding for cranberry growers to renovate their bogs, allowing for more efficient production and cultivation of the larger, higher-yield fruits. The Environmental Bond Bill signed by Governor Baker in 2018 included funding for these grants.

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, speaking at the announcement of the Massachusetts Cranberry Bog Renovation Enhancement (MCRE) Grant Program. (courtesy image)

“By supporting these enhancement projects, our administration continues to support cranberry growers by providing the needed capital for their expansion,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “As the Commonwealth’s cranberry growers face ongoing economic challenges, MCRE grants help drive economic growth and opportunities for these local businesses.”

The grant recipients will receive funds for capital expenditures ranging from specialized equipment needed to level and reconfigure bogs, improving irrigation systems and improving irrigation efficiencies, and higher yield variety vines. The projects will improve growers’ environmental impact, increase bog productivity, and offer more efficient methods of production for growers.

“The investments made by the Baker-Polito Administration for bog improvements will help local agriculture enterprises reduce environmental impacts, boost production, along with greatly increasing their overall sustainability,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides.

“The MCRE Program is a key new program that is intended to support cranberry growers in managing their operations in a time of increased industry challenges,” said Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux.  “We are excited to be adding this program to our suite of funding programs to help address growers’ needs for the future.”

The cranberry industry is the state’s third largest agricultural sector, and boasts 363 cranberry farms on over 13,555 acres.  At nearly $59 million, the agricultural value of the cranberry industry makes up 13% of the state’s total agricultural value, despite the industry representing only 4.5% of the state’s farms and 2.7% of the state’s agricultural acreage.

“These grants will allow for more efficient and effective cultivation of one of the Commonwealth’s most important resources – cranberries,” said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  “I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued support of agriculture and our cranberry growers.”

The new Massachusetts Cranberries logo, image courtesy of Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association

“Cranberry bogs are a mainstay of our agricultural sector here in the Commonwealth – especially in many of the Southeastern Massachusetts communities I proudly represent,” said Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton).  “I am extremely pleased that 13 operations in my district have been selected to receive a total of over $500,000 through the Massachusetts Cranberry Bog Renovation Enhancement Grant Program.  As the worst effects of climate change continue to emerge, our agricultural sector’s need for infrastructure upgrades will only intensify.  The resources announced today will enable growers to renovate and revitalize operations in order to adapt to these significant changes in our natural environment.”

“These enhancement grants provide needed support allowing local growers to compete with more modern bogs in the Midwest and Canada.” said State Representative Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett, co-chair of the Cranberry Station Board of Oversight). “I commend the Governor and his administration for supporting these local businesses, many of which have been in the same family for generations.” 

“This is a great day for the Commonwealth’s cranberry industry and the growers of southeastern Massachusetts are the heart of it,” said State Representative Susan Gifford (R-Wareham). “While serving as a member of the Cranberry Revitalization Task Force, the concern we heard time and time again was the need to renovate bogs in order to stay competitive.  It’s wonderful to see these growers benefit from this grant program as a direct result.”

By Katie Gronendyke