HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf joined Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding to unveil the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, a historic proposal to provide support for and continued investments in the commonwealth’s agriculture industry. The proposal, which has already gained bipartisan support, was modeled after the governor’s six-point plan to cultivate future generations of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry.
“Pennsylvania has a long, proud history of agriculture, and this comprehensive package of funding opportunities and resources will help expand this important industry,” said Gov. Wolf. “The Pennsylvania Farm Bill allocates $24 million in additional funding to chart a real path for a dynamic and prosperous farming economy in Pennsylvania. It’s about providing more opportunities to our farmers by creating more jobs, more income and more hope.”
The Pennsylvania Farm Bill 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.
“Pennsylvania’s story can’t be told without agriculture, and the Pennsylvania Farm Bill will help inspire all of the chapters yet to come,” said Secretary Redding. “By further supporting the agriculture industry and investing in business operations, infrastructure, education and the workforce, we are setting the course for a future filled with increased opportunities and prosperity.”
The Pennsylvania Farm Bill proposal will:
Develop New Resources for Agriculture Business Development and Succession Planning
Because thoughtful planning is critical to the sustainability of farms, the Pennsylvania Farm Bill proposes to establish a Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to serve as a resource for farmers to create business, transition, or succession plans to give them the best probability of success.
Create More Processing Capabilities
The Pennsylvania Farm Bill will support the dairy industry by continuing to fund the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program, as well as the Center for Dairy Excellence, and will establish a Center for Animal Agriculture Excellence to assist poultry, swine, sheep, lamb, goat and rabbit agriculture.
Remove Regulatory Burdens and Strengthening the State’s Agricultural Business Climate
The Pennsylvania Farm Bill continues cutting through the red tape by incentivizing best management practices to allow farmers to be more competitive while incorporating high-quality conservation practices on their operations – through a mix of grants, low-interest loans and tax credits.
Increase Opportunities for Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Workforce
There will be nearly 75,000 job vacancies in the agriculture and food industries over the next 10 years. The Pennsylvania Farm Bill provides funding to increase awareness of and exposure to agriculture.
Protecting Agricultural Infrastructure
An ongoing need for disaster response readiness has been evident most recently with the threats of spotted lanternfly infestation and highly pathogenic avian influenza. The Pennsylvania Farm Bill creates a Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account to allow for 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.
Increasing Market Opportunities and Making Pennsylvania the Nation’s Leading Organic State
The Pennsylvania Farm Bill includes funding that will bolster Pennsylvania’s status as a leader in food and agriculture, through increased funding for the PA Preferred program. The proposal will further enhance the growth of the organic industry by creating state-specific guidelines for marketing Pennsylvania’s products to a global marketplace. The proposal also includes support for urban agriculture initiatives, and a newly created state-level specialty crop block grant program to support growing industries like hemp, hops and hardwoods.
Many members of the legislature recognize the need to invest in such an important industry.
“Investing in agriculture means investing in small business, investing in our workforce and investing in future generations of farmers,” said Pa. Rep. Martin Causer. “I look forward to working with farmers across the commonwealth, Gov. Wolf, and fellow lawmakers to address the challenges facing this industry that puts food on our tables and contributes so much to our economy.”
“Agriculture is vital to Pennsylvania’s economy and this investment proves that the administration recognizes that fact,” said Pa. Sen. Judy Schwank. “This is the leadership we need for the future for agriculture in the commonwealth.”
“I want to thank Gov. Wolf and his staff for working to increase support for Agriculture, Pennsylvania’s largest industry, and offer my appreciation to the governor for addressing the concerns of the Ag community,” said Representative Eddie Day Pashinski. “These dollars will help ensure Pennsylvania maintains the highest standards and best practices in safety and quality for the people of PA while protecting the future of agriculture in our commonwealth.”
— Office of Gov. Tom Wolf