HARRISBURG, Pa. — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today encouraged Pennsylvania farmers to apply for grants of up to $7,500 through the PA Farm Bill’s $1 million Farm Vitality Grant Program for organic transition planning assistance.
“Over the past year while the desire for local and to know where your food comes from grew, the demand for organic increased more than ever,” said Redding. “Our mission has always been to help grow opportunities and remove barriers for the industry, which is what the Pennsylvania Farm Bill allows us to achieve. If you want to tap into the opportunity and new markets brought by organic, apply for a Farm Vitality Grant.”
Since 2012, the number of certified organic farms in Pennsylvania has increased by 75 percent, from 600 to 1,048, inching the commonwealth closer to Governor Tom Wolf’s goal to make Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state. The market value of Pennsylvania certified organic products skyrocketed with the number of farms, rising from $78 million to $742 million and increasing the average sales per organic farm from $131,000 to $675,000. With this increase, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for organic sales, with nearly 2.5 times the dollar value of sales of New York, the only other state in the Northeast in the top 10.
Pennsylvania’s increasing organic production is on-trend with nationwide organic sales, which have also been increasing exponentially year over year. According to the U.S. Organic Trade Association, in 2020 U.S. organic sales reached nearly $62 billion, a record increase of 12.4 percent from the previous year.
With support through the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, Pennsylvania farmers can tap into the ever-growing organic marketplace. The Vitality Grant Program offers $1 million for planning needs, aimed at enhancing the long-term health and vitality of Pennsylvania’s farm families. The program funds professional planning services for farms for a variety of needs from generational transition planning to organic transition planning assistance. The maximum grant amount is $7,500 and is limited to 75% of the project cost.
The program open now is the second round for the $1 million program and opened on April 19, 2021. Applications will be accepted until all funds are exhausted. Farmers interested in taking advantage of the Farm Vitality Grant Program for organic transition planning assistance, or for other purposes, can apply online.
For more about the Wolf Administrations investments in growing opportunities and resources for Pennsylvania agriculture through the PA Farm Bill, visit agriculture.pa.gov or follow the Department on Facebook and Twitter.
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture