Baker-Polito Administration Announces $7.75 Million to Support Upgrades, Research at UMass Cranberry Station

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BOSTON—The Baker Polito Administration announced $7.75 million in funding to support infrastructure upgrades, including the design, construction, retrofitting and outfitting of enhanced laboratory space, at the UMass Cranberry Station located in Wareham. The research supported by this funding will help Massachusetts’ cranberry industry continue to thrive as an important sector of the agricultural economy in the Commonwealth.

“Cranberries are one of Massachusetts’ signature agricultural products, and this funding will support vital research that ensures the cranberry industry will remain a thriving and sustainable sector in the Commonwealth for generations to come,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The infrastructure improvements made possible through this funding will enhance the research capacity of the Cranberry Station and provide an essential base of knowledge that will help the cranberry industry adjust to the impacts of climate change and remain an economic driver for Southeastern Massachusetts.”

“The research made possible through these important upgrades to the Cranberry Station’s lab capacity will provide significant benefits to this historic sector of Massachusetts’ agricultural economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “As the cranberry industry continues to work to increase the sustainability of production while adjusting to a changing climate, this research will lead to important strategies for water conservation and pest control.”

The funding, which includes $5.75 million in capital spending authorized in Governor Baker’s 2018 Environmental Bond Bill, will be used by the Cranberry Station to modernize and expand its research facilities, improve the environmental profile of the facility, and provide the research tools needed to support vigorous research programs in cranberry water, pest, and nutrient management. These funds will be backed by a $2 million commitment from the University of Massachusetts Amherst for existing deferred maintenance needs at the facility.

“Massachusetts’ cranberry industry has been harvesting this landmark crop in the Commonwealth for over 200 years, and this enhanced research capacity will help it increase its sustainability and position it for long-term success,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Water resource management is critical to sustainable production, and the research supported through this funding will help to improve water quality and reduce the amount of water needed for cranberry production.”

Upgrades to the laboratory facilities at the Cranberry Station will include:

  • Retrofitting the basement level of the lab building as usable workspace, including installing partitions and upgrading HVAC systems to provide exchange air to meet workspace code requirements
  • Repairing and renovating on the main level of the lab and administration buildings
  • Upgrading telecommunications and technology assets
  • Acquiring research equipment and software for water, nutrient, and pest management laboratory and field research programs
  • Constructing multi-use outbuilding facilities, including storage, a growth chamber space, a field preparation laboratory, and student housing
  • Improving equipment and infrastructure for demonstration, including a cranberry bog for research
  • Purchasing new vehicles to support field research

This infrastructure will support research on water quality and quantity, integrated pest management, pollinator health, and the minimization of nutrient and pesticide use to reduce environmental impacts and enhance the sustainability of cranberry production the Commonwealth.

“The work that will be done as a result of this funding will lead to more efficient production and reduce environmental impacts while meeting the needs of Massachusetts’ cranberry producers,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “We are pleased to support the Cranberry Station and the Commonwealth’s historic cranberry industry as part of these important research initiatives.”

Massachusetts’ cranberry industry, through crop production, processing and manufacturing, is a major sector of the state’s agriculture economy, and increasing the efficiency of water use in cranberry production is key to conserving water, while minimizing off-target movement of nutrients and pesticides will help to preserve water quality and ensuring the sustainability of cranberry production in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts is the oldest cranberry growing region in the country. Today, there are approximately 13,300 acres of commercial cranberry bogs in the state, primarily in Plymouth, Bristol, and Barnstable counties. In 2019, the total value of utilized Massachusetts cranberry production was approximately $64.8 million.

“From agriculture to life sciences to advanced manufacturing and everywhere in between, the research mission of the University of Massachusetts is essential to the Commonwealth’s economy,” said UMass President Martin T. Meehan.  “We are thrilled at the support shown for that mission by Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and we couldn’t play our critical role in the Innovation Economy without support from the Legislature. We are also grateful to Chairman Michael Rodrigues and Chairman Bill Straus for helping secure these capital funds.” 

“As the original Massachusetts Agricultural College and the Commonwealth’s land grant institution, UMass Amherst is proud of the research and extension work conducted at the Cranberry Station,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “We are grateful to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and their teams, as well as Senator Michael Rodrigues and Representative Bill Straus, for all their efforts in helping to secure the release of these funds. They will substantially enhance our research capacities for this important economic staple of the Commonwealth.”

In June 2017, the Massachusetts Cranberry Revitalization Task Force released its final report with recommendations to preserve and strengthen Massachusetts’ cranberry industry. Among its findings, the Task Force recommended funding infrastructure upgrades at the UMass Cranberry Station to support research and outreach focused on the industry’s barriers to sustainability.

The UMass Cranberry Station has conducted critical research and provided practical applications for cranberry growers in the Commonwealth since 1910. The Station’s research and outreach programs are focused on water, nutrient, and pest management specializing in integrated studies of water conservation, water quality, and low risk pest control agents.

“This funding will allow the Cranberry Station, and through it our region’s agricultural sector, to remain at the cutting edge of cranberry research, as it has for over one hundred years,” said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  “Cranberries are a vital part of our economy, and I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration, specifically Secretary Heffernan and Secretary Theoharides, for their support and Chancellor Subbaswamy for his ongoing efforts to make sure UMass Amherst remains a steadfast partner as we work collaboratively to ensure this critical industry will continue to thrive and remain competitive for decades to come.”

“The cranberry industry is an essential part of our region as well as the Commonwealth,” said State Representative Susan Gifford (R-Wareham). “This funding is welcome news and will keep the industry moving forward in the midst of numerous challenges.”

“Cranberry production remains an important part of our regional economy, and these improvements will support the innovation needed for our bogs to remain competitive,” said State Representative Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett). “I want to thank Governor Baker for making local agriculture a clear priority.”

“For over 100 years, the UMass Cranberry Station has been a critical component of the Massachusetts cranberry industry, providing invaluable horticultural and environmental research that has enabled our growers to continually raise crops in the most environmentally and economically sound manner possible,” said Brian Wick, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association. “We are so thankful, and quite honestly ecstatic, for the Commonwealth’s funding support today of the Cranberry Station and our industry, which will help keep our growers on the cutting edge of cranberry farming for decades to come.”