Redding to detail agriculture investment at town hall
PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE, Pa. — Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding is expected to discuss a $23.1 million investment into Pennsylvania agriculture when the largest outdoor exhibition within the industry gets underway Aug. 13 to 15.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf set the money aside for 2019-20 efforts that are part of a Pennsylvania Farm Bill that he signed in June. Much of it becomes available to the agricultural community beginning in a few months, when the state begins soliciting applications, Governor’s Office Press Secretary J.J. Abbott said.
Redding, who is addressing the issue in a Town Hall conversation and a Dairy Industry Breakfast during the Penn State exhibition, in a prepared statement called it “the largest investment” and “the beginning of a new era of opportunities” for the state’s leading industry.
The Center for Dairy Excellence and the Penn State Extension are hosting the complementary Dairy Investment Breakfast from 6:45 to 8:45 a.m., Wednesday in the Red Barn basement at Main Street near West 11th Street. The deadline to register is noon, Tuesday, Aug. 6.
The Town Hall gathering, which Redding is expected to co-host with Penn State University Dean Rick Roush, is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 13 in the College Exhibits building at the corner of West 10th and Main streets.
Pennsylvania farms have a production value of $7.8 billion, according to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. The legislation sets aside $2 million for an Agricultural Business Development Center where farmers can obtain help creating business, transition and succession plans.
It also earmarks money for nutrition and agricultural education for youngsters and for urban agriculture, and it allows for an increase in the size of animal husbandry implements. A Center for Animal Agriculture Excellence, funded at $1 million, is to in part provide resources for food safety compliance and assist with the establishment of hemp as an approved animal feed.
A Disaster Readiness Account, scheduled to receive $5 million, is designed to provide rapid responses to foodborne illnesses and agricultural disasters. More than $5 million is set aside for conservation and best practices.
The farm bill also provides incentives for transferring preserved farmland to beginning farmers, for subdividing preserved farmland and for investing in urban agriculture infrastructure and to enhance the growth of the organic sector.
A Dairy Investment Program, launched in 2018 and renewed as part of the state’s farm bill, addresses what the Department of Agriculture shows is the state’s leading commodity: Milk.
Wolf during last year’s Ag Progress Days addressed a six-point plan for agriculture from which the bill grew, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Farmers provide 5.5 percent of the nation’s milk supply and help the state rank fifth nationwide in terms of milk production, according to the Department of Agriculture.
The dairy industry has been faced with stagnant supply and demand-based prices as well as global competition, Department of Agriculture Press Secretary Shannon Powers said.
The Dairy Investment Program helps dairy farmers to expand markets and diversify operations to provide for organic products that are in demand and value-added products that can provide a cushion when milk prices are not what they need to be, Powers said.
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