Wolf signs bills to help ag marketing, foster young farmers
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Legislation to help Pennsylvania agriculture was signed into law Monday, including measures to foster younger farmers, help clean water going into Chesapeake Bay and expand butchering services for small farmers.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed eight related farm bills in a Capitol ceremony, flanked by the state presidents of the Future Farmers of America and the 4-H.
The $23 million initiative includes funding for agricultural business development, marketing, educational programs and conservation practices.
Money will also go to encourage specialty products such as hardwood, hemp and hops, and to build agricultural infrastructure in urban areas.
State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding called it “the most comprehensive investment in agriculture in a generation.”
Officials say agriculture makes up 18 percent of the state’s economy and involves more than a half-million workers.
Two $500,000 grant programs will help teach about nutrition and agriculture to students in grades K-5, and help develop farm workers, including through FFA and the 4-H.
There are low-interest loans for conservation, $2.5 million to pay for “best management practices” in the Chesapeake watershed and a $3 million boost for the resource enhancement and protection tax credit program.
The dairy industry will get $5 million to fuel innovation, foster value-added processing, fund marketing and help farmers transition to organic practices.
A $4 million effort will fight the spotted lanternfly invasion and prepare for the state’s next agricultural disaster — including threats to animals and plants and the danger of food-borne illness.