PA Farm Bill Will Support Agribusiness Planning and Transition Assistance
New Castle, PA – Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding today joined county officials, stakeholders, and local agribusiness owners at Elder Farms, a preserved farm in Lawrence County, to highlight how producers can receive assistance with business planning, transition, and conservation efforts under the proposed PA Farm Bill.
“Elder Farms has been under operation since 1860 and over that time, has been passed down through the generations and has had to evolve with changing business models, technology, and market needs,” said Sec. Redding. “They’ve built an enduring and successful agribusiness that has served their community for decades; the PA Farm Bill would provide resources to help other producers do the same.”
The owners of the 500-acre Elder Farms, of which 150 acres are preserved, raise beef cattle and practice rotational grazing. Conservation is important to the Elder Family, and they have an updated conservation plan and follow a nutrient management plan. They utilized REAP tax credits to purchase no-till equipment and have benefited from an Environmental Qualify Incentives Program (EQIP) contract with USDA-NRCS to install a heavy use area protection around the barnyard.
The PA Farm Bill, a package of legislation that provides support for and continued investments in the commonwealth’s agriculture industry, was modeled after the governor’s six-point plan to cultivate future generations of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. The legislation will provide for business development and succession planning, create accommodations for a growing animal agriculture sector, remove regulatory burdens, strengthen the ag workforce, protect infrastructure, and make Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state.
Other highlights of the legislation include:
Creating the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to serve as a resource to help every farmer create a business plan, transition plan, or succession plan to ensure the best chance of success.
Incentivizing the transfer of preserved farmland to a new or beginning farmer through the Realty Transfer Tax Exemption.
Creating the Conservation Excellence Grant Program to offer financial and technical assistance to farmers to install and implement conservation best management practices.
Expanding the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) tax credits by $3 million to increase the lifetime cap and increase availability.
Developing the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program to fund research and development, organic transition assistance, value-added processing, and marketing grants in support of Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.
Addressing issues within the animal agriculture industry--such as expanding processing capacity, transition assistance, technical assistance, food safety, and establishing industrial hemp as an approved animal feed—through the Center for Animal Agriculture Excellence.
Incentivizing Access to Meat Processing Inspections to encourage small or new producers by reimbursing federal meat inspection costs and subsidizing the first-time purchase of equipment needed for federal compliance.
Expanding the allowable width for the use of implements of husbandry on roads from 16 feet to 18 feet.
Engaging with agricultural and rural youth organizations to help increase knowledge and awareness of agricultural issues within the commonwealth through the Agriculture and Youth Organization Grant Program.
Improving childhood nutrition while increasing exposure to agriculture through the Farm to School Grant Program.
Improving agriculture infrastructure in urban areas, the aggregation of product, sharing of resources, and support for community development efforts.
Ensuring a quick response to agricultural disasters--including utilizing animal or plant health officials to contain an outbreak; or providing an immediate response to a foodborne illness—through the Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account.
Making Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state by further enhancing the growth of the organic industry.
Supporting the PA Preferred program and to bolster enrollment in the Homegrown by Heroes Program.
Creating the state-level Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest in and encourage farming of high-priority horticultural crops like hemp, hops, and hardwoods.