Jul 28, 2014
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Harbor Watch Gets $38K from State to Help Protect Shellfish Beds

Harbor Watch Gets $38K from State to Help Protect Shellfish Beds
By Barbara Heins and David Gurliacci

The state Agriculture Department just gave a local grant of almost $39,000 to help protect shellfish beds in Westport.

EarthPlace's Harbor Watch program in Westport has been granted $38,815 to help finance a $236,840 program designed to "eliminate sources of pollution in support of local commercial and recreational shell fishing industry," according to a state Agricultural Department announcement.

Harbor Watch is among more than 40 farms, agricultural non-profits and municipalities getting state money as part of an ongoing effort to expand Connecticut’s growing agricultural economy, state officials announced Thursday. 

“Our diverse and vibrant agriculture sector is an important economic driver for our state with enormous potential for future job creation and economic growth,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a news release. “These grants are a clear sign that we can both preserve our agricultural heritage and help it expand and create jobs.”

The $880,327 in funding was made through the Agriculture Department’s Farm Transition Grant and Farm Viability Grant programs, designed to increase farm production, promote Connecticut Grown products and create jobs.

The money -- which requires matching funds from the grantee -- will leverage nearly $2.4 million in investments.  

“Connecticut’s agriculture economy is making many significant advances in the right direction, and these grants will help keep that momentum going,” said Steven K. Reviczky, commissioner of the state Agriculture Department. “These are important investments that will benefit both producers and consumers.” 

Agricultural Viability Grants are made available through Public Act 05-228, An Act Concerning Farmland Preservation, Land Protection, Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation.

The legislation protects and preserves Connecticut by providing funding for municipal open-space grants, farm viability and preservation, historic preservation and new and existing affordable housing programs, along with new infrastructure to support and promote agriculture in the state.

The grants were awarded on a competitive basis and a match must be supplied by the applicant.  The Department of Agriculture’s share of the budget is capped at $49,999 in matching funds. Grantees have up to one year to complete their project, according to the terms of their contract.

Funding is not limited to producers.  Non-profit organizations and municipalities also are eligible, and may use the grants for town or regional planning purposes provided that agricultural components are involved. The Department of Agriculture plans to open up the grant-application period again in November.

For more information on these grants, please visit the department’s website. Click on: “Programs and Services” and then: “Agriculture Viability Grants.”

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