General Secretary Encourages Aspiring Farmers to Leverage PA Farm Bill Investments to Nurture the Next Generation of Agricultural Prosperity
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today moderated a panel discussion highlighting Pennsylvania’s bountiful resources for farmers looking to pass the torch to a new generation and for young people looking to enter the field. Held during Penn State University’s annual Agricultural Progress Days, the panel featured partners in business, nonprofits, and the legislature as well as farmers who have benefited from PA-funded assistance. Farm Bill for success in farming.
“Pennsylvania leads the nation in protecting farmland and leads the nation in getting young people into farming,” Redding said. “But without increasing the number of young farmers even further, we cannot feed a growing population on these lands. We still have work to do, but help is available.”
“Last week, Governor Wolf joined us in celebrating the nearly $72 million Pennsylvania has invested in the future of agriculture through the PA Farm Bill,” Redding continued. “Bringing young people to finance and connecting them with the expertise and resources needed to succeed remains our top priority.”
Pennsylvania leads the nation with 14% of the state’s farmers under the age of 35, and Lancaster County alone in 2020 has 2,400 young farmers, the most of any US county. The numbers have increased significantly since 2012, but farmers over 65 outnumber those under 35 by six times.
One of the main objectives of the PA Farm Bill. The Farm Bill established the Agricultural Business Development Center connecting farmers to resources, expertise and financing; Tax exemptions for real estate transfers of beginning farmers as an additional tax incentive for conservation farm owners to lease or sell their assets to beginning farmers; and next-generation farm loans to reduce costs for young farmers expanding or establishing new operations.
To date, the state has funded 20 loans totaling $11,104,000 in tax-exempt, low-interest loans to farms in Lancaster and Chester County through the Next Generation Farmer Loan Program. . The program provides beginning farmers with access to affordable capital to purchase farmland or farm equipment, lowering interest rates and increasing farm profits through a unique partnership between the state, federal government and the private sector.
“Pennsylvania’s economy is strong and growing,” Governor Wolf said. when the first program loans were funded in March 2022. “Seven years of sound fiscal management and prudent investments in building our agricultural infrastructure and capacity are helping our farmers continue to feed our economy and our families. We’ve seen farm profits and production increase over the past year, and we’re committed to building on that momentum by raising a new generation of farmers and supporting the growth of the Pennsylvania farms we’re so proud of. »
Elder Vogel, Senate Chairman for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, joined the panel to discuss the PA Farm Bill’s Beginning Farmer Programs and Commission for Excellence in Agricultural Education which ensures that Pennsylvania schools’ curricula lay the foundation for a workforce that is nimble enough to innovate and adopt rapidly changing agricultural technology. Senator Vogel defended both programs in the General Assembly.
The ministry certified 41 novice farmers and, in turn, preserved farm owners and novice farmers received $425,338 in real estate transfer tax exemptions for novice farmers for the sale of agricultural properties to young people taking over for grow in the future.
In addition, twelve farm owners received Beginning Farmer Tax Credits of $199,561 for renting or selling their property to beginning farmers.
The PA Farm Bill also established Farm Vitality Planning Grants, which were awarded to 255 Pennsylvania farm businesses to plan conservation actions that will support their operations into the future. Through partnerships with Horizon Farm Credit, the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center, and Pennsylvania Farm Link, the Agricultural Business Development Center has connected beginning farmers with mentorships, expertise, farmers who have land or equipment and educational events to learn how to succeed in their new ventures.
Dean Rick Roush of the PSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Lynn Kime and Jay Harper of the PSU Extension Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program joined the panel to discuss the critical expertise and support available through the l ‘State.
Erik Sink, a graduate of Pasa Sustainable Agriculture’s diverse vegetable apprenticeship program, shared his experiences in one of seven state-certified agricultural apprenticeships.
The panel was rounded out by Mark Rohrbach of Rohrbach Farms, who spoke about the steps he has taken to keep his preserved family farm in Catawissa, Columbia County, and Katie Hetherington Cunfer of Never Done Farm in Douglassville running. in Berks County, which shared it. experiences and expertise with county and state economic development resources.
Connect with the Agricultural Business Development Centerlearn more about the PA Farm Bill and find grant recipients who have leveraged his investments to grow and sustain a bright future for Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry at agriculture.pa.gov.
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