When Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, or CISA, established its Emergency Farm Fund in 2011, the immediate goal was to help local farmers hurt by Hurricane Irene. But the group knew that Irene was not an isolated event and that farmers would continue to struggle with weather-related catastrophes, so the Fund was designed as a revolving loan program that would continue beyond that storm.
Last week, CISA announced that it’s re-opened the fund to help farmers hurt by the Feb. 8-9 snowstorm. In a statement, Phil Korman, CISA’s executive director, said the storm was particularly tough on greenhouses, many of which collapsed under the weight of the snow.
“Farmers who lost greenhouses that they use for winter or spring growing now find themselves in a difficult situation,” he said. “We hope these loans will offer those farmers the option to rebuild or repair immediately to minimize future harvest losses.”
The Emergency Farm Fund provides interest-free loans of up to $10,000 to farmers and farm businesses affected by natural disasters. After Hurricane Irene, the fund distributed a total of $93,000 in loans to 11 farms, according to CISA.
Korman called the fund “ an important complement” to government aid programs. “These small, no-interest, quick turnaround loans are able to help tide the farms over,” he said. “Unfortunately, the need for this type of assistance becomes more pressing as severe weather events become more common.”
Farmers can apply for post-blizzard aid through March 31. Go to www.buylocalfood.org to apply or to donate to the fund.•