Thursday, Governor Wolf and Agriculture Secretary Redding met at State College with recipients of PA Farm Bill grant funding to celebrate the program, which is now over $76 million.
The PA Farm Bill celebration was at the 150-year-old Hess Farm, State College, PA. Since its launch in July 2019, this legislation has supported more than $76 million in investments to grow agriculture, food, and fiber industries. Additionally, the bill invested strategically in the long-term prosperity of Pennsylvania agriculture.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Pennsylvania’s economy. When farmers succeed, we all succeed, I created the Pennsylvania Farm Bill to support the future success of agriculture in the commonwealth, to remove barriers to entry for first-generation agriculturalists, to grow infrastructure for improved food security, to support the sustainability of our farms, and invest in opportunities for the next generation of agricultural leaders,” said Gov. Wolf. “I’m proud of how the PA Farm Bill has touched the lives of so many Pennsylvanians and supported a new, necessary diversity in agriculture. May it continue to grow and prosper, because of these seeds we’ve planted today.”
In January 2018, the Department of Agriculture released the first-ever economic impact report for Pennsylvania agriculture. The PA Farm Bill developed after the information released in the impact report. In 2021, a new economic impact report revealed a $132.5 billion economic impact and an industry that supports more than 590,000 jobs paying nearly $33 billion in wages annually.
“As we celebrate the anniversary of the PA Farm Bill, we are reminded of how we arrive to this point,” said Secretary Redding. “Over the last four years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the commonwealth and meet the faces of those impacted by the PA Farm Bill. It is both urban and rural; it is multigenerational farm families and youth learning how to grow fresh foods and give back to their communities; it’s first-generation farmers and urban agriculturalists addressing food access and equity, and so much more. The PA Farm Bill embodies the spirit of Pennsylvania agriculture, and its legacy and impact will benefit the industry for generations to come.”
The PA Farm Bill provides diverse support for Pennsylvania agriculture in six categories:
- Resources for agricultural business development and succession planning
- Building a stronger-agriculture workforce
- Removing regulatory burdens and strengthening on-farm sustainability
- Increasing processing capabilities and capacity
- Creating new market opportunities and investing in organic agriculture
- Preparing Pennsylvania agriculture for quick response to disasters
According to the Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania has a $132.5 billion agriculture industry. At its heart, the PA Farm Bill works to support a strong-future workforce for agriculture. Estimates state that Pennsylvania agriculture would face a worker deficit of 75,000 as individuals retire and new, technology-based positions become available. Programs like Ag & Youth, Farm to School, Beginning Farmer Tax Credits, and Farm Vitality to address this workforce shortage and secure a stronger future for the industry. In fall 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistic Service released data noting that with 12,598 producers under age 35, Pennsylvania currently has the highest percentage of young producers in the nation.