Farmland Preservation News 

Crop field, blue sky, white clouds
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NEWS

Wolf Administration Announces $59 Million to Support Beginning Farmers, Grow Pennsylvania Agriculture
On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, the Wolf Administration announced the availability of $59 million in Beginning Farmer Tax Credits over the next decade for those who sell or rent agricultural land, livestock, equipment, buildings or other assets to qualified beginning farmers.

Wolf Administration Awards $1 Million in Farm Vitality Grants Created by 2019 PA Farm Bill 
In Centre County, Jeff and Cindy Harding, Frank Nolan, Paul Broker and Stephen Hoy are grant recipients. In all, the administration awarded Farm Vitality Planning Grants to 133 farms in 45 counties. Note: Cindy Harding serves as vice chair of the Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Board.

PENN STATE NEWS
Ag Progress Days will be held online August 9 - 12
Continuing a 50-year tradition, Penn State's Ag Progress Days, brought to you by the College of Agricultural Sciences, is a one-stop shop for the latest research, management practices, and regulations in agriculture.

COVID-19 Cancellations
Penn State’s Ag Progress Days 2020 cancelled

Centre County Grange Fair 2020 cancelled


RELIEF PAYMENTS AND GUIDANCE FOR FARMERS

Direct Relief for Farmers Affected by the Pandemic

Farmers are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program
Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers are eligible for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) passed by Congress as part of its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The PPP is a guaranteed loan program aimed at helping small businesses maintain their payroll during the coronavirus crisis.

Agricultural producers, farmers, and ranchers with 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States are eligible.

Farms are eligible if: (i) the farm has 500 or fewer employees, OR (ii) it fits within the revenue-based sized standard, which is on average annual receipts of $1M.

Additionally, farms can qualify for PPP if it meets SBA’s “alternative size standard.” The “alternative size standard” is currently: (1) a maximum net worth of the business not more than $15 million, AND (2) the average net income Federal income taxes of the business for the two full fiscal years before the date of the application be not more than $5 million.

Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians of Food Assistance Programs and Resources, Encourages Volunteerism to Keep Life-Sustaining Food Services Available
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has provided resources for Pennsylvanians to access emergency food assistance during COVID-19 mitigation, including locations of food banks and food pantries that are assisting individuals and families during this time. And to ensure that food banks and community feeding organizations remain operable with healthy volunteers, the department provided guidance for ways to limit contact while providing their essential services.

COVID-19 Guidelines for Farmers & Markets Webinar
During this webinar, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Executive Director Hannah Smith-Brubaker and Brian Moyer from Penn State Cooperative Extension review the guidelines on COVID-19 for farmers, markets, and related ag businesses issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. They also outline and recommend additional measures that direct-to-consumer farms and farmers markets can implement to limit in-person transactions.

Guidance for Farms and Markets
Agriculture is an essential, life-sustaining industry. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture encourages all segments of the agriculture supply chain to continue operations throughout the coronavirus pandemic, including farms, farmers markets, CSAs, and farm stands.
     All essential businesses that remain open should adopt safety protocols to limit the spread of the coronavirus while continuing to deliver food to their communities. Open the link above for a list of relevant information and resources to support farmers and local markets as we work together to adapt our operations and business models.


Eat Local Centre County gives farmers resources for selling products locally
As farmers markets close and residents are being asked to stay home, people are being encouraged to shop local for food and to explore pick-up and delivery options. Learn more. Appalachian Food Works also wants to know how they can help you sell. You may contact them at info@appfoodworks.org

Surviving COVID-19: How US Farmers Are Coping In Uncertain Times (March 23, 2020)


Producers are coming up with creative ways to sell their produce, as farmers’ markets shut down across the country. 

PUBLICATIONS

2020

PA Bureau of Farmland Preservation 2019 Annual Report
Pennsylvania is a national leader in farmland preservation with 5,675 farms and 579,940 acres protected through permanent agricultural conservation easements. Public funds used toward easement purchase are a critical investment in the future of Pennsylvania’s thriving $135.7 billion agricultural industry. In addition to the economic benefit, the program ensures food supply for a growing population. Pennsylvania has some of the most fertile, non-irrigated soils found anywhere in the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic and increased threat of climate change both put food security at a heightened level of awareness and further support the need to continue preserving farms. The latest USDA ag census figures indicate that the commonwealth lost roughly 6,000 of its farms from 2012-2017. Development pressures will threaten prime farmland soils in the decade ahead. Farmland preservation mitigates these irreversible losses.

Centre County Preserved Farms
Since 1991, Centre County has completed 53 easements and preserved 8,023 acres of farmland.

PRESENTATIONS

CBICC ABC Essentials Presentation, May 19, 2020

Stewards of Our Farmland: How a Centre County Board and the Commonwealth are Securing a Future for Our Farmers

Stewards of Our Farmland presentation
A visual tour of Centre County’s preserved farmland in Benner, Ferguson, Harris, Marion, Potter, Spring and Walker townships.

Publication Archive

NEWS RELEASES
2020


Secretary of Agriculture: Urbanization Threatens Agricultural Lands, Farmland Preservation Key to Future of Food Security
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown many Pennsylvanians empty grocery store shelves for the first time in their life, leading to a heightened awareness of where food comes from and how it gets from farm to shelf. Access to farmland is vital to food security and meeting demands in both a regular and crisis climate.

On June 11, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding announced an $11.9 million investment in food security by safeguarding 4,432 acres on 48 farms in 25 counties through the state’s nation-leading farmland preservation program. County governments invested an additional $2 million in the farms preserved today, bringing the total investment to $13.9 million.

"Pennsylvania is the leading state in farmland preservation with more than 5,700 preserved farms and 584,000 preserved acres,” said Dr. Thomas Daniels, University of Pennsylvania. “Preserved farmland helps support a multi-billion-dollar agricultural industry that is essential for providing long-term food security for the residents of the commonwealth." Through his research, Dr. Daniels found that farmland contributes more in tax dollars than in demands in services.
Since the farmland preservation program began in 1988, federal, state, county, and local governments have purchased permanent easements on 5,724 farms totaling 584,487 acres in 59 counties for agricultural production.

Centre County’s agricultural easement program preserves 53rd farm
The Centre County Agricultural Land Preservation Board on January 7 officially preserved 234.35 additional acres of farmland, bringing its total acreage for preserved farms to 8,023 acres.

FARMING NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE AND THE NATION: 
The Future of Farmland Preservation

Farm Preservation Report Marks State’s Progress
Pennsylvania has made a major commitment to farmland preservation

The state has preserved 600,000 acres on 5,700 farms — an almost $1.6 billion accomplishment. Another 1,400 farms are on waiting lists to be preserved. “Here in Pennsylvania, we like to tout the fact that we lead the nation in farmland preservation,” said Douglas Wolfgang, director of the Pennsylvania Ag Department’s Bureau of Farmland Preservation.

Pennsylvania County News: Agriculture in Pennsylvania
This Spring 2020 publication features Pennsylvania’s farmland preservation program. See page 10.

Pennsylvania Adds 39 Farms, 2,848 Acres to Nation-Leading Farmland Preservation Program
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation Board on February 20, 2020 approved easements on the J. Roy Campbell and Galen and Katherine McWilliams farms in Ferguson Township. Together, these parcels will add 182 acres to Centre County’s preserved farmland.

What does the future of farming in Pennsylvania look like?
Pennsylvania is investing in helping farmers who will be transitioning to new owners and operators, 
as well as qualified new and beginning farmers. 

10 numbers that show how much farmland we’re losing to development
"What’s new ... is the discovery that the development isn’t coming only from urban areas expanding outwards – rural areas are also losing farmland rapidly."

Make rural Pennsylvania’s voice heard in the Census 2020
USDA grants are based on census data.

RESOURCES FOR FARMERS

PA Department of Agriculture
Learn how the PA Farm Bill works for you.

PA Bureau of Farmland Preservation
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of farms and acres permanently preserved for agricultural production. The program guarantees a future food supply and contributes to a healthier economy. 

Beginning Farmers
This webpage dedicated to the Beginner Farmer Realty Transfer Tax Exemption (Act 13 of 2019) includes basic information about the program, frequently asked questions, and associated forms.

Succession Planning
The Farm Vitality Planning Grant Program helps fund professional services for those planning for the future of a farm. 

If you have questions about resources for farmers, contact Diana Griffith, Centre County Ag Land Preservation Coordinator, at dlgriffith@centrecountypa.gov or (814) 355-6791.