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 Blog Post

Pennsylvania Farm Bill

February 14, 2019 12:00 AM
By: Emily Demsey

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As the agriculture industry grows and changes, we must support the industry in new ways to ensure its future success. The Pennsylvania Farm Bill invests more than $24 million in Pennsylvania's agriculture industry to grow opportunities and resources, remove barriers to entry, and cultivate future generations of leaders within agriculture. 

The plan includes:

  1. Agricultural Business Development and Succession Planning
    • Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center, funded at $2 million, 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. 
    • Realty Transfer Tax Exemption for any transfer of preserved farmland to a qualified beginning farmer. 
  2. Creating more processing capabilities to accommodate a growing animal agriculture sector
    • Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program, funded at $5 million, to fund research and development, organic transition assistance, value-added processing, and marketing grants in support of Pennsylvania's dairy industry. 
    • Center for Animal Agriculture Excellence, funded at $1 million, to support the animal agriculture industry by expanding processing capacity, technical assistance, providing resources for food safety compliance, and assisting with the establishment of hemp as an approved animal feed. 
    • Incentivizing Access to Meat Processing Inspections, funded at $500,000, to encourage access to new and expanded markets for small or new producers by reimbursing federal meat inspection costs and subsidizing the first-time purchase of equipment needed for federal compliance.

  3. Removing regulatory burdens and strengthening the state's business climate
    • Conservation Excellence Grant Program, funded at $2.5 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 lowinterest loan program for the implementation of best management practices.
    • Resource Enhancement and Protection Tax Credits, expanded by $3 million, to increase the lifetime cap and increase availability.
    • To ensure that farmers are better able to transport agricultural products or supplies, the Farm Bill proposes to expand the allowable width for the use of implements of husbandry on roads, such as farm tractors and combines, from 16 feet to 18 feet.  
    • To enhance diversification or transition to other ag operations for preserved farms where the original operation is no longer feasible, the Farm Bill proposes to amend the Ag Area Security Act to allow for subdivision of preserved farms.
    • Repeal unnecessary audit provisions from the Cooperative Agricultural Association Law that currently require agricultural cooperatives to provide certified financial audits to the department, removing an antiquated burden for existing cooperatives and a barrier for new cooperatives.

  4. Strengthening Pennsylvania's workforce to ensure the next generation is prepared to lead
    • Agriculture and Youth Grant Program, funded at $500,000, to reestablish this program to fund agricultural and rural youth organizations to help increase knowledge and awareness of agricultural issues within the commonwealth. 
    • The Pennsylvania Farm to School Grant Program, funded at $500,000, to improve childhood nutrition while increasing exposure to agriculture. 

  5. Protecting agriculture infrastructure
    1. Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, funded at $5 million, to allow for a quick response to agricultural disasters, including utilizing animal or plant health officials to contain an outbreak or threat, such as Spotted Lanternfly or Avian Influenza; or providing an immediate response to a foodborne illness. 

  6. Increasing Market Opportunities and Making Pennsylvania the Nation's Leading Organic State
    • PA Preferred Organic Initiative, funded at $1.6 million, to make Pennsylvania 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 overall PA Preferred program and to bolster enrollment in the Homegrown by Heroes Program.
    • State-level 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 for community development efforts.  

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