Baker-Polito Administration Announces 30 Grants to Improve Farm Food Safety

 Baker-Polito Administration Announces 30 Grants to Improve Farm Food Safety

BOSTON – December 28, 2015 – The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded 30 grants
totaling $200,000 to Massachusetts farmers to install practices that improve food
safety within their operations. Many of the grants will help commercial oyster
farmers prevent foodborne illness caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp).

«The Commonwealth’s agricultural industry is growing and consumers have an increased
interest in eating locally produced nutritious food,» said Governor Charlie Baker.
«These grants will allow farmers to implement infrastructure upgrades to ensure that
food safety risks are managed, marketplace needs are addressed and their businesses
continue to grow.»

«With these Food Safety grants we are taking a proactive approach to ensuring that
farmers in both the aquaculture and produce sectors are ready to meet the demands of
the marketplace and the challenges of a new regulatory environment for food safety,»
said Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito. «We are committed to supporting our
agricultural industry and ensuring safe local food production.»

The Department of Agricultural Resources’ Agricultural Food Safety Improvement
Program (AFSIP) supports agricultural operations that are looking to implement food
safety upgrades on their farms, enabling the operations to meet buyer demands,
increase consumption of local food, as well as protect public health by reducing
food safety risks.

«By ensuring that our agricultural businesses have the tools, technical assistance
and financial support to manage food safety risks, these grants are an important
step towards implementing the goals of the Massachusetts Food System Plan to
increase the production, sale and consumption of locally produced food,» said Energy
and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. «It is also vital that we
help Massachusetts oyster farmers meet the requirements of our Vibrio Control
Program in order to keep the oyster industry viable and consumers healthy.»

This round of grant funding has a focus on assisting commercial oyster farmers with
meeting the Department of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and the Department of Public Health
(DPH) Vibrio Control Program. Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is a human pathogen know
to cause foodborne illnesses from the consumption of raw oysters. In an effort to
address these foodborne illnesses, the Vp Control Plan requires strict harvesting
controls for oysters. These grants will help aquaculture operations meet these
requirements by allowing them to purchase commercial coolers, cold storage, and ice
machines to reduce the temperature of oysters at harvest and continued cooling of
oysters thereafter.

«In only its third year, the Agricultural Food Safety Improvement Program grant has
proven to be one of our most popular grants to the agricultural community,» said
Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux. «The program
is unique in the way it helps producers and growers with on-farm infrastructure
improvements while addressing both food safety needs and the demands of buyers and
regulators. It helps farmers with their overall viability and ensures that our Food
System stays strong and continues to grow.»

The following projects have been funded through this year’s grants:





Almeida Farm


Plastic Macro Bins for Squash


Astarte Farm


Packing Room Upgrades


Avery, Sheila


Four (4) Insulated Vats


Barnstable Lady Oysters


(2) Insulated Vats


Bay Breeze, Inc.


Packing Room; (7) Insulated Vats; Ice Machine


Baye Blanche Oyster, Co.


Ice Machine; Insulated Vat


Canning, Craig

East Sandwich

Plastic Macro Bins for Fresh Cranberries


E & T Farms, Inc.

West Barnstable

Ice Machine


Ebbwater Sea Farm


Ice Machine


Fresh Meadow Farm


Well; Piping; Tank and Controls


Grey Lady Oysters


(2) Vats; Ice Machine


Highland Cranberry Co.




Holiday Brook Farm, LLC


Washing and Packing Room; Walk-in Cooler


Jekanowski Farms, LLC


Washing & Packroom Upgrades; Plastic Macro Bins for Potatoes


Jennings, Margaret


Ice Machine


Maple Row Farm


Packing Room Upgrades


Martino’s Seafood

Vineyard Haven

Ice Machine


Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe – First Light Oyster


Walk-in Cooler


Mike’s Wicked Oysters


Ice Machine


Old Friends Farm


Greens Dryer; (3) Stainless Steel Tables


Paquette Wholesale Veg. Growers


Washing Table


Pilgrim Bay Harvest, LLC


Ice Machine; (2) Vats


Pine Hill Orchard


Portable Restrooms


Pleasant Point Shellfish


Ice Machine


Ralph’s Oysters


Ice Machine


Rock Creek Oysters


Ice Machine; Ice Chest


Simple Gifts Farm

North Amherst

Washroom & Packroom Upgrades


Van Norman, Bill


Ice Machine; (2) Insulated Vats


Volante Farms


Stainless Steel Table for Packing; Hand Washing Sinks


Warren’s Cove Oyster Co.


Ice Machine; (2) Vats


«I appreciate the towns of Plymouth and Sandwich being targeted for these Food
Safety grants,» said State Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). «This funding will
not only protect public health but encourage economic development in this region.
Thank you again, to the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued support for
the Plymouth and Cape Cod regions.»

«Ocean temperatures off the New England coast continue to rise, making vibrio a
challenge unknown to these waters just 20 years ago,» said State Representative
Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich). «Grants for shellfish refrigeration equipment are an
important public health initiative. On another front, the switch from wooden to
plastic crates for cranberries and other fruits and vegetables also supports food
safety because, although traditional, wooden crates absorb pathogens making it more
difficult to ensure cleanliness in the packing process.»

«These grants will have a large and significant impact on the aquaculture industry
on Cape Cod,» said State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown). «The
recipients take food safety seriously, and MDAR deserves credit and a big ‘thank
you’ for supporting the industry’s efforts with this grant program. These grants for
ice machines and cooling vats will help ensure that the oysters grown in our waters
retain their freshness and arrive at home and restaurant tables as pure, delicious,
as safe as possible.»

«For nearly two decades, Paquette Farm has provided fresh produce to residents of
Shrewsbury and members of the surrounding community,» said State Senator Michael O.
Moore (D-Millbury). «Supporting local farmers and buying local is more important now
than ever. I congratulate Ed and Toni Paquette for their commitment to providing
fresh produce to the region and I am confident that this grant will assist with
advancing their efforts.»

«Massachusetts residents all want the freshest of produce for our families to enjoy
year round,» said State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury). «Viable local
farms are key to achieving this but the pressure on farmers is never ending in a
densely populated state such as ours where land values are high. Infrastructure
grants such as this, targeted to local farmers to ensure that crops grown are
handled safely, are a real game changer for small, local growers. I am thrilled that
one of Shrewsbury’s local farmers, Paquette Wholesale Vegetable Growers, is
receiving one of the Food Safety grants from the Baker-Polito Administration.»

«We’re using this funding for portable satellite handwashing stations for our field
workers, which will increase food safety and worker experience,» said David Volante,
owner of Volante Farms. «Also, we’ll be able to invest in a new stainless steel root
crop processing table. Both upgrades will allow for easier, more effective
sanitation and improve the overall quality of our agricultural products.»