Oley, PA – Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding today visited Oley Valley High School, learning about the work students are doing in agricultural education and discussing the positive impacts the PA Farm Bill will have on ag ed and organizations like FFA.
“Over the past four years I’ve traveled the commonwealth seeing the great work our ag ed and FFA students are doing, and it never fails to impress,” said Sec. Redding. “So often, schools and organizations see themselves as ‘normal’, when they’re in fact extraordinary. Pennsylvania’s schools and ag programs are rising to the occasion, preparing students to serve as the leaders, the entrepreneurs, the scientists, and the agribusiness owners of the future.”
Under the PA Farm Bill--a comprehensive legislative package addressing the needs of Pennsylvania’s farmers and agribusiness community--Pennsylvania youth will increase knowledge and awareness of agricultural issues within the commonwealth through the Agriculture and Youth Organization Grant Program, funded at $500,000; and gain exposure to child nutrition and agriculture through the Farm to School Grant Program, funded at $500,000.
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. It invests $24 million dollars in agriculture-related issues from rapid response, to education, to business assistance.
“Through all of its investments and access to opportunities, the Pennsylvania Farm Bill signals our commitment to not just this generation, but to the next,” Redding added.
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.
- 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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