Agriculture, Pennsylvania’s No. 1 industry, supported through new state farm bill | TribLIVE.com
Pennsylvania

Agriculture, Pennsylvania’s No. 1 industry, supported through new state farm bill

Stephen Huba
1364459_web1_gtr-vetfarm001-101118
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Holstein calves feed at the Frye family’s Pleasant Lane Farms in Unity.

Whether it’s an experienced farmer who wants to get into hemp production or a young farmer who needs access to farmland, there’s seemingly something for everyone in the new Pennsylvania Farm Bill.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s signing of the $23.1 million farm bill — a series of legislative initiatives within the state budget — this week is being hailed by agriculture allies in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert, who attended the signing ceremony, said the bill’s wide-ranging focus addresses numerous concerns of the farming community.

“The state Legislature and the governor see what an important part agriculture plays in the state’s economy,” he said. “Our farmers have been struggling the last few years, with commodity prices being down … so it’s good to see the state Legislature step up a bit to help make sure agriculture remains viable in the state.”

Agriculture and its associated industries contribute more than $135 billion, or about 18%, of Pennsylvania’s economy. The industry involves more than a half-million workers, including 280,500 direct jobs.

“Agriculture is our No. 1 industry,” said state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Carmichaels, “and the PA Farm Bill will allow us to support our farmers in several ways, including business development, the expansion of job opportunities and additional resources to promote our products through the PA Preferred program.”

Snyder, whose district includes Greene County and parts of Washington and Fayette counties, sponsored one of the pieces of legislation that made up the farm bill — a grant program to reimburse federal meat inspection costs for small or new processors.

Ebert, a dairy farmer in Derry Township, said the farm bill is an amalgam of new programs and increased funding for existing programs. “It’s wide range of a lot of different topics,” he said.

Some of the highlights include:

• A tax credit to landowners who rent or sell their land to beginning farmers.

• A change in the state vehicle code that allows farm equipment of up to 18 feet in width to travel on roadways under certain safety conditions.

• The Pennsylvania Farm to School Grant Program ($500,000) for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students, to support increased nutrition and agriculture education.

• $500,000 to the Agriculture Linked Investment Program to provide low-interest loans for conservation practices.

• $500,000 for a Specialty Crop Block Grant program to invest in certain priority crops, including hardwoods, hemp and hops.

• The Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, funded at $4 million, to provide a quick response to the next agricultural disaster, whether animal health, plant health or foodborne illness.

• $5 million in new funding for the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program, which supports innovation, value-added processing, marketing and organic transitions in the dairy industry.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: News | Pennsylvania | Top Stories
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.