New USDA offices in Greenfield to aid staffing increase, program expansion

The United States Department of Agriculture’s new offices on Montague City Road in Greenfield, a former Center School building.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s new offices on Montague City Road in Greenfield, a former Center School building. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The United States Department of Agriculture’s new offices on Montague City Road in Greenfield, a former Center School building.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s new offices on Montague City Road in Greenfield, a former Center School building. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

United States Department of Agriculture staff James Newland, Bailey Albert, Sylvia M. Muniz-Gaya and Zoraia De Jesus Barros outside their new offices on Montague City Road in Greenfield.

United States Department of Agriculture staff James Newland, Bailey Albert, Sylvia M. Muniz-Gaya and Zoraia De Jesus Barros outside their new offices on Montague City Road in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The United States Department of Agriculture’s new offices on Montague City Road in Greenfield, a former Center School building.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s new offices on Montague City Road in Greenfield, a former Center School building. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-11-2024 4:17 PM

GREENFIELD — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will open its new office at 59 Montague City Road on Wednesday, May 15, leaving behind the department’s former Federal Street location amid staffing increases and an expansion of new programs.

“It’s a big upgrade in every facet,” said James Newland, county executive director for the USDA Farm Service Agency. “There’s plenty of parking, we’re in our own building, so far fewer distractions from the neighbors the general public. Our former spot was a very busy public hub.”

The USDA, which has secured a 10-year lease from building owner David Zaccheo, will house two of its agencies there — the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service — with enough open office space to accommodate an increase in Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, according to the service’s Public Affairs Specialist Zoraia De Jesus Barros. The offices are in the Marion Bliss Finer Building, one of the buildings formerly occupied by the Greenfield Center School before its new facility was constructed and opened on Bernardston Road.

“We needed a little bit bigger of a room to better serve our clients,” De Jesus Barros said. “There’s more work to be done and we outgrew our physical space, so we needed this a long time ago. It’s very fortunate that we could get it.”

With a drought season expected this summer and acreage reports due July 15, Newland said he expects the new office to be busy in the months ahead. The USDA Farm Service Agency’s Massachusetts Outreach Coordinator Bailey Albert noted that the department has introduced an array of new programs intended to help farmers “weather the storm,” amid climate change-related floods and droughts. Programs offered by the USDA include disaster prevention and recovery services, and the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, which incentivizes farmers to use climate change-resistant farming practices.

“It seems as though every other year is a drought and then a flood. It’s going to be a drought this year. We’ve had disasters every year,” Newland said. “Just a reminder [to farmers], if there’s any sort of disasters out there, contact us and let us know about it.”

The department, Albert said, is also expanding its assistance for “historically underserved” agriculture workers, providing service waivers or cost reductions to women farmers, racial or ethnic minority farm owners, farmers with limited resources and veteran farmers. She said she hopes the new office space will serve as an invitation for farmers in the area to meet with the department and take advantage of its programs.

“We’re thinking of this relocation as an invitation to encourage producers to connect, or reconnect, with local staff,” Albert said. “We want farmers to come see our new space — we’re here to serve you, talk about what we can do for you. It’s not a rebrand; everything is the same. We’re just looking forward to some, you know, new energy and new servicing opportunities.”

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Anthony Cammalleri can be
reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.