Package of bills provides support for and continued investments in agriculture industry
Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding joined GIANT Food Stores and Troegs Independent Brewing to tour Caputo Brothers Creamery in Spring Grove, a Dairy Investment Program grant recipient, highlighting how the Pa. Farm Bill would help dairy producers diversify and expand their operations.
The Pa. Farm Bill, a package of bills 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 would provide for 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. This year, $5 million was awarded to 29 projects in 20 counties across the commonwealth.
The Pa. Farm Bill would also invest in 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 tax credits by $3 million to increase the lifetime cap and increase availability.
- 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.
- 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.
For more information about the Pa. Farm Bill and Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, visit the Department of Agriculture website.