Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding is commending Governor Tom Wolf and the General Assembly for once again funding the Pennsylvania Farm Bill.
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HARRISBURG, PA — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding is commending Governor Tom Wolf and the General Assembly for once again funding the Pennsylvania Farm Bill. Funded for the third time at $13.6 million, the PA Farm Bill is a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive set of programs that resulted from bipartisan action to grow a stronger, more resilient agriculture industry.

“While Pennsylvania agriculture has been important to our history, it’s even more critical to our future. This industry holds solutions for most significant issues of our time – from jobs, to the environment and climate, to the availability and accessibility of food, and even our ability to address social injustice,” said Redding. “This continued investment in Pennsylvania agriculture is a commitment by the Wolf Administration to a resilient commonwealth with a bright future for every single person.”

The Pennsylvania Farm Bill was developed to grow opportunities and resources, remove barriers, and build a workforce that the future of Pennsylvania agriculture can rely on. With the 2021-22 PA Budget funding, the PA Farm Bill will have invested more than $50 million into the commonwealth’s leading industry. Over the past three years, these dollars have gone to work for Pennsylvania agriculture, our communities and our economy.

Notably, since its inception, PA Farm Bill programs have worked to:

-Support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry and foster innovation to support ever-changing markets and consumer preferences;

-Address food insecurity in Pennsylvania’s urban spaces by growing agricultural infrastructure in areas affected by systemic deprivation of fresh, nutritious foods;

-Promote agricultural awareness in Pennsylvania’s youngest residents to cultivate a strong future workforce for Pennsylvania agriculture which is facing increasing vacancies due to an aging workforce and continual innovation and technological advancements;

-Increase awareness and availability of local Pennsylvania products to meet consumer demands for local food and reduced food miles;

-Support sustainable conservation practices that take care of Pennsylvania’s natural resources and further ensure the security, availability and accessibility of food; and

-Support Pennsylvania’s farm families and small agribusinesses to ensure sound business and transition plans for the continuity of agriculture.

Pennsylvania agriculture is a $132.5 billion industry that supports more than 590,000 jobs in the commonwealth that pay nearly $33 billion in wages annually. As the industry grows and adapts, it must be supported in new ways to ensure its continued success.

The 2021-22 PA Budget funds the PA Farm Bill at $13.6 million, the same level of funding received in 2020, and includes the following programs:

Resources for Business Development & Succession Planning

-PA Agricultural Business Development Center, funded at $2 million, to serve as a resource to create business, transition or succession plans.

-Realty Transfer Tax Exemption for any transfer of preserved farmland to a qualified beginning farmer.

Creating More Processing Capabilities

-Center for Poultry & Livestock Excellence, funded at $1 million, to support the animal ag industry with biosecurity planning and disease prevention, processing capacity, and food safety and quality assurance.

-Incentivizing Access to Meat Processing Inspections, funded at $500,000, to encourage access to new and expanded markets for small or new producers.

Removing Regulatory Burdens

-Conservation Excellence Grant Program, funded at $2 million, to provide financial and technical assistance to farmers to install and implement best management practices.

-Agriculture Linked Investment Program, funded at $500,000, to re-establish this low-interest loan program for the implementation of best management practices.

Strengthening the Ag Workforce

-Agriculture and Youth Grant Program, funded at $500,000, to reestablish this program to fund agricultural and youth organizations to help increase knowledge and awareness of agriculture in the commonwealth.

-The PA Farm to School Grant Program, funded at $500,000, to improve childhood nutrition while increasing exposure to agriculture.

Protecting Agricultural Infrastructure

-PA Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, funded at $3 million, to allow for quick response to agricultural disasters.

Increasing Market Opportunities

-PA Preferred Organic, funded at $1.6 million, to make PA the nation’s leading organic state by further enhancing the growth of the organic industry.

-PA Preferred Program, funded at an additional $1 million, to support the program and to bolster enrollment in Homegrown by Heroes.

-Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, funded at $500,000, to invest in and encourage farming of high-priority horticultural crops like hemp, hops, and hardwoods.

-Urban Agriculture, funded at $500,000, to improve agriculture infrastructure in urban areas, the aggregation of product, sharing of resources, and support development efforts.

For more about the Pennsylvania Farm Bill visit agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill.

Last month, 14 of our dairy farms in Maine, as well as dozens of dairy farms across northern New England, got an unexpected and disappointing notice from Danone of North America saying that they were discontinuing their contracts with our organic dairy farmers in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and elsewhere.

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