Governor Lamont Directs Nearly $10 Million in COVID Relief Funding for Connecticut’s Dairy and Aquaculture Industries
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is directing nearly $10 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funding and American Rescue Plan Act funding to support Connecticut’s dairy and aquaculture industries, which experienced significant market disruptions during the pandemic, negatively impacting sales.
Additional funds will be used to address food insecurity with funds to purchase CT Grown products for drive-through distributions and extending the availability of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at farmers markets.
This comes in addition to $1.45 million that was previously allocated to programs that support farmers and food access in Connecticut, including CT Grown for CT Kids; the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; the Senior’s Farmers Market Nutrition program; and Foodshare’s drive-through distribution. These dollars will keep Foodshare distribution open through at least the end of October.
With these new dollars, the state will have reached a total investment of $10.3 million in these programs.
“Our farmers and their teams are essential workers who played a critical role in getting Connecticut through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Lamont said. “I am grateful for their dedication to ensuring that our residents have access to clean, healthy food. This investment will help keep these incredibly important businesses afloat and keep Connecticut families fed.”
“Connecticut agriculture was deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to continue planting, growing, and harvesting a diverse array of food critical to feeding the residents of our state,” Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt said. “However, like so many others, these family businesses were negatively impacted by market disruptions and closures. These funds will strengthen those sectors most severely impacted while also investing in food security programs buying Connecticut Grown food products to support local families.”
“Connecticut farmers have been frontline heroes during this pandemic,” the members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation said in a joint statement. “Their resilience throughout this crisis has been vital to ensuring Connecticut families have fresh food on their tables. These federal dollars will provide much-needed relief to the Connecticut family farmers who have overcome unprecedented challenges while providing healthy, locally grown food for those experiencing hunger. We were proud to secure this funding to get our farmers the help they need.”
“We are grateful for the support we continue to receive from Governor Lamont and our federal delegation and their commitment to prioritizing fighting food insecurity in Connecticut, as well as their role in securing this COVID-19 relief funding used to fund these projects,” Connecticut Foodshare CEO and President Jason Jakubowski said. “Through continued collaboration between the Office of the Governor, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and Connecticut Foodshare, we’re not only able to provide food to households around the state but support our local Connecticut growers.”
“COVID-19 market disruptions shuttered many opportunities and devastated the aquaculture and dairy markets,” Joan Nichols, executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association said. “These strategic investments in agriculture are in great need for farmers to continue operating and providing safe, affordable, and healthy foods to residents.”
The governor made the announcement today during a visit to Oak Ridge Dairy, a fifth-generation family farm in Ellington. The farm is home to the Modern Milkman, an online subscription home delivery service of pantry staples to families in Hartford and Tolland counties.
“This administration’s support of Connecticut agriculture, specifically the dairy industry, will ensure the future sustainability of family businesses like mine,” Seth Bahler, CEO of Oakridge Dairy, said. “The market disruptions, fluctuations in commodity pricing, and weather have been a real challenge and this funding is a tremendous benefit at a time when it’s most needed.”