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03/28/2019

PA Farm Bill: Creating Innovative Processing Opportunities for Pennsylvania Agriculture

Pittsburgh, PA – Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding today highlighted two new projects in Western Pennsylvania that demonstrate the opportunities available under the proposed PA Farm Bill, specifically efforts to create more opportunities in processing capabilities for meat and dairy.

“The level of innovation we’ve seen in agribusiness practices around the state is only rivaled by the level of commitment that producers have to their farms, products, businesses, and customers,” said Sec. Redding. “Under the PA Farm Bill, access to resources will further stimulate these innovative projects and will help support the commonwealth’s top industry.”

Redding first stopped by the Washington County Fairgrounds to view a new USDA-approved mobile poultry processing unit with the Republic Food Enterprise Center and Penn State University. Then, he visited with Turner Dairy to congratulate them on their Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program grant, awarded yesterday. The $23,500 grant will provide for research and development of a new ready-to-drink coffee beverage to be produced at the dairy processing facility in Penn Hills Township.

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.
  • Improving agriculture infrastructure in urban areas, the aggregation of product, sharing of resources, and support for community development efforts.
  • 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.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers - 717.783.2628

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