Image: Pennsylvania ag officials launch grant program to help farmers with projects

Farmland in rural York County, Pennsylvania.

(The Center Square) – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has launched a new grant program aiming to help the state's farmers with a variety of projects.

“Pennsylvania’s more than 53,000 farms are the backbone of our reliable food system,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “They are the heart of Pennsylvania, just like this $1 million Farm Vitality Grant Program is the heart of the Pennsylvania Farm Bill. Pennsylvania’s farm families need sound business plans, because their success is success for all of Pennsylvania.”

The 2020-21 Farm Vitality Grant Program will help farmers fund professional services including business planning, transitions of farm ownership, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production, and financial and technical expertise.

Through the program, prospective farmers will be eligible for up to $7,500, which can cover no more than 75% of a project’s cost. Applications [just started being accepted as of this past Monday, April 19, 2021,]  and the program will remain open until funds are exhausted.

Pennsylvania continues to face a shortage of agricultural workers. The grant program was designed to address the workforce shortage by attracting a new generation to the industry and making farming attainable and accessible for beginners.

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service provided data showing that Pennsylvania has the highest percentage of young producers in the nation, with 12,598 producers younger than 35.

“Attracting a new generation to this industry and removing barriers to access is critical to ensuring a strong industry and food-secure Pennsylvania,” Redding said.

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