Philadelphia, PA – Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding today met with stakeholders at the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society to outline the unique role urban agriculture would play in the proposed PA Farm Bill, and how urban agriculturalists can take advantage of new opportunities under the legislation.
“Urban agriculture is as much about community development as it is about economic development,” said Sec. Redding. “Gardens and farms engage and serve their neighborhoods as places to work, to meet others, and to provide fresh food for their residents.”
As a way to increase market opportunities for the commonwealth’s urban agriculturalists, the PA Farm Bill provides for Urban Agriculture Grants, funded at $500,000, to improve agriculture infrastructure in urban areas, the aggregation of product, sharing of resources, and support for community development efforts.
The PA Farm Bill, a package of legislation 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 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.
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 (REAP) tax credits by $3 million to increase the lifetime cap and increase availability.
- Developing 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.
- 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 Rural 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.
“We have heard loud and clear that there must be a more effective infrastructure to improve local food systems,” Redding added. “With this investment, we plan to improve that infrastructure, increase efficiency, provide resources, and support economic and community development.”
For more information about the PA Farm Bill and Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, visit the Department of Agriculture website.
MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers - 717.783.2628
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