11 of 14 counties in Massachusetts labeled “natural disaster areas”

All 4 western Massachusetts counties are in that category

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Mother Nature hasn’t been kind to New England farms this year.

“We’ve had a tough year. We fight the weather, we fight so many things…Out of 6 acres, I found 2 peaches. That’s it,” said Tom Calabrese of Calabrese Farms.

Calabrese’ Southwick farm is one of dozens across western Massachusetts whose tree fruit crops were wiped out by last February’s freeze, killing many of the apples we’re supposed to have this fall.

“The buds that started to grow started to swell up, and then when it got cold, it all froze,” said Calabrese.

Local farmers eligible for aid, following freezes and drought

As farmers struggled, the USDA labeled all four western Massachusetts counties “natural disaster areas;” but there is relief for Calabrese and other farmers. The USDA announced on Tuesday farmers who’ve lost crops because of the weather can apply for federal funding.

“You’ve got to keep the local farmers in business, or else we’ll be out of business, that’s for sure,” said Calabrese.

It’s like going to work and not getting your first four paychecks, and then on your fifth week you get a paycheck, but you’re already so far behind, or in debt. Farmers are now encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency office to start the application process.

Calabrese said even though his apple crop is smaller this year, there’s still plenty of pumpkins and corn. He said it’s the price you pay when you depend on nature. He added that he’s received state loan, and will be applying for this federal funding.

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