Grants are available for meat and poultry processors in the state to meet the demand for locally grown food.
Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today said the state is seeking applications for $500,000 in PA Farm Bill-funded grants aimed at increasing locally produced meat and poultry in the state.
Very Small Meat and Poultry Processor Reimbursement Grants help small businesses start up or expand to meet USDA food safety requirements.
“Consumers want to buy local,” Redding said. “These grants help our small producers meet that demand for high-quality, nutritious food that meets stringent food safety requirements. In turn, this investment helps keep our food supply chain short, keeping costs down, growing producers’ bottom lines, and keeping more dollars right here in our communities.”
Grants of up to $100,000 are available to reimburse processors for consulting or technical services to draft and implement a federal Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Plan to ensure a facility can become USDA-certified and produce meat or poultry safely.
Eligible costs also include processing equipment and supplies required for certification, as well as employee training, safety equipment and supplies.
Grant applications must be submitted online through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development Electronic Single Application. The deadline is 5 p.m. Sept. 26.
Full grant guidelines are published in the July 23 edition of the PA Bulletin. Potential applicants with questions about eligibility should contact Joshua Scheinberg at (717) 919-0377 or [email protected]
Pennsylvania has preserved more than 6,000 farms with the latest round of farm purchases.
This week, the state protected 1,969 acres on 26 farms in 12 counties from future development, investing more than $6.4 million in state, county and township dollars.
The approved farm purchases bring the state total to 6,004 farms and 608,091 acres of prime farmland that will be forever protected from commercial, industrial or residential development, according to the state Department of Agriculture.
“Pennsylvania farmers face tremendous pressure to sell their valuable land to developers,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Many of these families have farmed through generations of hardships and uncertainty, but they are committed to ensuring their legacy continues and Pennsylvania has the resources to feed future generations.
“Pennsylvania is home to some of the most fertile, non-irrigated soil in the nation, and we have been the most successful of any state in at protecting our prime farmland.” Redding said. This is one of our most important investments in feeding our families and our economy in years to come.”
By selling their land’s development rights, landowners preserve their farms, protecting the land from future residential, commercial or industrial development. Farm families often sell their land at below market value to ensure that it will remain farmland. Pennsylvania partners with county and sometimes local governments and non-profits to purchase the development rights.
The State Agricultural Land Preservation Board also set the 2022 spending threshold at $38 million. County programs set aside $15.9 million in local funds to spend on preserving farms in 2022.
The 26 farms preserved are in Berks, Blair, Chester, Dauphin, Fayette, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Northampton, Schuylkill and York counties.
Notable farms preserved include:
The Leon and Linda Burkholder Farm, a 70.6-acre crop and livestock farm in Maxatawny Township, Berks County, is classified by the USDA as nearly all prime farmland soils, the best for producing food. The farm is adjacent to two other preserved farms and within two miles of thirty-four others.
Kenneth D. Myer Farm, a 133.77-acre crop and heifer operation in Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County, is a well-managed, highly productive farm bordering an area designated in the county’s comprehensive plan as an Urban Growth Area. The farm will add to an 800-acre block of preserved farmland in the vicinity, ensuring that agriculture will thrive for generations.
The Ronald Carkin Farm, a 77.39-acre crop and beef operation in Sandy Township, Mercer County, officially the program’s 6,000th farm preserved, is in a portion of the Greater Pittsburgh region that is experiencing significant residential development pressures. The farm is close to the Lake Wilhelm, part of the Maurice K. Goddard State Park.
Other farms preserved include:
Berks County –Total investment $643,649 state; $135,900 county
The Leon and Linda Burkholder, and Aaron W. Nolt Farm, a 71-acre crop and livestock farm
The Ammon N. and Edna S. Leid Farm, a 60-acre crop and livestock farm
The Daniel H. & Kristine W. Schuler Farm #2, a 126-acre crop farm
The Richard C. Wolf Farm, a 33-acre crop farm
Dauphin County– Total investment $135,300, state only
The Laurie Myers Farm, a 90-acre crop and livestock farm
Lancaster County– Total investment $1,232,111 state, $594,832 county, $113,000 townships
The Wayne S. and Brenda L. Baum Farm, a 16-acre dairy farm
The Christopher S. and Bethany G. Harnish Farm #1, a 46-acre crop farm
The Christopher S. and Bethany G. Harnish Farm #2, a 48-acre crop farm
The Galen C. Martin Farm, a 56-acre crop farm
John E. & Linda M. Shenk Farm, a 35-acre crop and livestock farm
Eli L. & Sadie S. Stoltzfus Farm, a 37-acre dairy farm
The Kenneth D. Myer Farm, a 132-acre crop and livestock farm
The Thomas E. & Lindsey A. Nauman Farm, an 87-acre crop and livestock farm
The Gerald M. & Lorene N. Nolt Farm, an 88-acre crop and livestock farm
Lehigh County– Total investment $347,099 state, $328,871 county
The Cole Jason Moyer and Roseanna Moyer Farm, a 116-acre crop farm
Northampton County– Total investment $1,155,405 state only
The Eric F. and Milissa L. Smith Farm, a 77-acre crop farm
The Roger C. and Trudy P. Unangst Farm, a 68-acre crop farm
York County– Total investment $4,662 state, $305,040
The Kenneth R. Snyder Jr. and Debra D. Snyder Farm #2, a 102-acre crop farm
Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry is being asked to abide by new state regulations to accommodate seasonal farm workers, including those with guest H-2A status, during the coronavirus pandemic.
The commonwealth is home to more than 360 permitted farm labor camps, totaling nearly 4,300 workers, according to the state Department of Agriculture. They are primarily migrant workers, sourced by individual private companies, or they have H-2A status and are federally sourced.
Guidelines announced this week for the agriculture sector are in addition to April 15 orders from state Health Secretary Rachel Levine, ordering protections for critical workers who are employed at businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations during the coronavirus disaster emergency. Levine ordered businesses to conduct routine cleaning and sanitizing as well as protocols for when a worker is diagnosed with COVID-19.
“We will have our food safety inspectors in the fields monitoring the guidance document and certainly making sure these employers in the agriculture community adhere to what the governor and Dr. Levine have laid out,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said at a virtual press call Tuesday.
Updated guidelines specifically for the state’s agricultural sector released on Monday require any owner or operator of a seasonal farm labor camp permit in the commonwealth to use enhancements to living quarters that minimize the risk and potential exposure to the coronavirus.
Housing facilities must have six feet of distance between beds, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and beds are required to position workers head to toe to limit exposure to respiratory droplets.
Adequate ventilation is required in habitable rooms, the guidance stipulates. That means 45% of the window area is required to be openable or a device must be installed to supply ventilation.
For workers who manifest COVID-19 symptoms — fever, cough or shortness of breath — farm employers are directed to have a plan in place for isolated housing accommodations, with separate sleeping, cooking and bathing facilities.
Transportation requirements are also in place for workers to maintain social distancing and safety as they travel to their worksite, purchase essential supplies and have access to toilet facilities. Farm employers are ordered to limit the number of workers transported at one time and maintain six feet of physical separation and install ventilation systems in vehicles.
“These guidelines are in addition to [health department guidelines], admittedly not enforced, but a clear expectation that just as we have made the case that agriculture is critical and life-sustaining, the only way that that is allowed to happen is to ensure that we protect these workers,” Redding said. “We would have the expectation that [employers] would do everything they can to implement this guidance.”
The investment will be used to create a new GIANT DIRECT ecommerce fulfillment center outside of Philadelphia, open two new stores, including one in Swatara Township, Dauphin County, and remodel 35 existing stores, company President Nicholas Bertram announced at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, accompanied by state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin.
“We’re doubling down on growth and innovation for our customers, building on the incredible momentum of 2019, and continuing to invest in our great Commonwealth,” Bertram said.
Last year saw major changes and growth for the Middlesex Township-based company, including the opening of 17 new stores and the launch of two new brands. Last January, the grocer debuted its new GIANT Heirloom Market format in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Philadelphia, followed by locations in University City and the Northern Liberties. In February, the company opened a first-of-its kind GIANT DIRECT ecommerce hub in Lancaster, and then rolled out the GIANT DIRECT concept to 125 locations.
“The accelerated growth of GIANT DIRECT has set the stage for additional investment opportunities that extend our ecommerce geographic reach,” Bertram said. “At the same time, our GIANT Heirloom Market format has enabled us to reach an entirely new demographic in Philadelphia.
A $1 million grant program created to enhance the long-term health and vitality of Pennsylvania’s family farms was introduced Wednesday in front of hundreds of public officials at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
The Farm Vitality Grant Program is the last of the grant programs financed under Gov. Tom Wolf’s $23.1 million Pa. Farm Bill, the state’s first.
“Just as farmers are at the heart of Pennsylvania and its heritage, the heart of the Pa. Farm Bill is the Ag Business Development Center and its $1 million Farm Vitality Grant Program,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “We need Pennsylvania farm families to have sound business plans, because their success is Pennsylvania’s success.”
The Farm Vitality Grant Program is designed to help fund professional services for individuals and families planning for the future of their farm. Officials say the program will enhance the long-term health and vitality of farms through business planning, efficient transitions of farm ownership, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production and financial and technical expertise.
The state Farm Bill also includes programs to tackle other issues in the agricultural community, including the Agriculture Linked Investment Program to provide low-interest loans for conservation practices, the Farm-to-School Grant Program to increase nutrition and agriculture education opportunities in schools, and the Specialty Crop Block Program investing in Pennsylvania crops like hardwoods, hemp and hops.
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