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State of Massachusetts Farm Viability Contractor in West Springfield, Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – MDAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is accepting resumes and applications for the position of Farm Viability Contractor. The contract will not exceed one year.* * A cover letter and resume must be submitted as part of the application process and attached “as relevant” to the requisition. * This position is anticipated to be a term-limited one-year contract position. Salary assumes 1800 hours over a period of a year with an added stipend in lieu of benefits of $2.68/hour that has been included in the hourly rate. This is a contractor position with no benefits, except earned sick leave. This position is available within Farm Viability and Agricultural Business Training Program team at The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. The Farm Viability Contractor will report to the Farm Viability Programs Supervisor to coordinate the Farm Viability Enhancement Program, provide stewardship support to farmers with land protected under covenant, and provide succession planning guidance and resources to Massachusetts farmers to help transfer their farms to the next generation. We are looking for an experienced, motivated team member with an understanding of business, land use and agriculture in Massachusetts that is ready to develop strong relationships with farmers to help keep their farm businesses viable and productive. The Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP) combines business planning, technical assistance, grants, and short-term covenants to help increase farm viability and has served as model for other state programs. Since 1996 the program has provided approximately $21 million in grants to 455 farms and protected 44,713 acres of farmland, in addition to providing valuable business and technical assistance that has contributed to these farms’ success. The Agricultural Business Training Program provides courses, trainings and workshops throughout the state in partnership with organizations and experienced instructors to response to identified needs of Massachusetts farmers. This position will organize an established succession training class for farm families and have the opportunity to develop and expand programming and materials. MDAR’s Viability and Agricultural Business Training Programs are within the Division of Agricultural Conservation Assistance at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and contribute to the Department’s overall mission to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. *Position Responsibilities: FVEP Program Coordination– Coordinate annual business planning and technical assistance process and provision of grants to participating farmers, including: * Develop annual Request for Response and facilitate application review process * Site visits to meet with farmers for orientations and farm tours * Help assign business planners and match technical assistance providers with identified needs * Provide guidance and support to service providers and farmers to develop business plans * Review business plans and financial projections * Develop contracts for use of funds and implementation of plans FVEP Stewardship Support– Assist Farm Viability Supervisor to provide guidance to landowners with covenants on their property, including: * Outreach and site visits with landowners to review covenants and discuss land use options * Provide guidance on activities requiring Department approval * Review and track status of requests for approval * Review deed information and help guide development of maps of covenant land * Farm site visits and data tracking for project completion and evaluation ABTP Facilitation– Help identify topics, plan and organize trainings and workshops to support the needs of farmers in Massachusetts with current focus on farms transitioning to next successor. * Organize annual established Succession School training classes with partnering organizations. * Guide technical providers to provide assistance to farmers to complete a succession plan * Research tools and resources to develop and maintain program guides and templates * Respond to inquiries regarding succession and transfer and land access and provide guidance to direct to appropriate resources General duties: * Project tracking, evaluations and summaries. * Regular communication and meetings with staff, technical providers and farmers. * Respond to inquiries from farmers to provide resources & program information * Attend field visits, conferences and events and serve on committees as needed * Promote programs and update program materials (print and online) Qualifications The desired candidate will have 5 or more years of professional experience in the agricultural industry or a related field, and a degree(s) related to planning, policy and business that has direct application to agricultural business development, such as Business Management, Regional Planning, Public Policy, Land Use Planning, or Agricultural or Resource Economics. A strong understanding of the needs of individual farms and the overall Massachusetts agricultural sector and regional food system. Knowledge of and familiarity with business planning, financial statements, agricultural operations, resource management, direct marketing, and farm succession or transfer issues. Strong Communication skills: the ability to speak clearly and effectively in a public setting; produce concise, clear, descriptive written correspondence and possess confidence and competency when working with diverse stakeholders including farmers, staff, technical providers and other organizations. . Project management experience and strong time management and organizational skills including the ability to balance working independently with contributing input within a team. Enthusiastic and positive attitude and commitment to Program goals and the Department’s mission. The ability to use Microsoft Office applications and video conferencing technology; familiarity with GIS. Access to a private vehicle for in-state travel and flexibility to balance work in the field, in the office, and out of a home office as needed to accomplish work objectives in a supportive work environment. This is a 37.5 hour per week position based in West Springfield office. Executive Order #595:As a condition of employment, successful applicants will be required to have received COVID-19 vaccination or an approved exemption as of their start date. Details relating to demonstrating compliance with this requirement will be provided to applicants selected for employment. Applicants who receive an offer of employment who can provide documentation that the vaccine is medically contraindicated or who object to vaccination due to a sincerely held religious belief may make a request for exemption. An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Females, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Job: Agriculture* *Organization: Department of Agricultural Resources *Title: *Farm Viability Contractor Location: Massachusetts-West Springfield-Century Way Requisition ID: 22000940