Governor Shapiro Champions Agriculture Innovation at Cedar Meadow Farm

Governor Josh Shapirovisited Cedar Meadow Farm, a regenerative farm in Lancaster County.Credit: Commonwealth Media Services

HOLTWOOD, PA — On Monday, Governor Josh Shapiro and Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding visited Cedar Meadow Farm in Lancaster County. This regenerative farm, known for its hemp and mixed vegetable production, served as a backdrop for Shapiro to highlight his 2024-25 budget proposal aimed at bolstering Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. The state’s $132 billion agriculture sector supports over 600,000 jobs.

Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry is a cornerstone of the state’s economy. Governor Shapiro’s Economic Development Strategy places agriculture at the forefront, proposing $10.3 million in funding for agriculture innovation. This initiative seeks to attract new businesses and sustain Pennsylvania’s legacy as a national leader in agriculture.

“I’ve visited so many multigenerational farms across Pennsylvania like Cedar Meadow Farm to see innovative examples of what our farmers have built firsthand,” said Governor Shapiro. “Farming is part of our heritage here in Pennsylvania – but it’s also part of our present and our future as a Commonwealth.”

Investing in Innovation

The Governor’s proposal, introduced as House Bill 2310, aims to establish and fund the Agriculture Innovation program. This program supports new solutions to agricultural and environmental challenges, ensuring that Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry remains competitive for decades to come.

The initiative has garnered broad bipartisan support in the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. It would enable the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) to offer grants to farmers and agricultural businesses. These grants would facilitate the implementation of new technologies, conservation practices, and renewable energy innovations, similar to those observed at Cedar Meadow Farm.

The Role of Hemp

Hemp, once a staple of Pennsylvania’s economy, is making a significant comeback. It offers tremendous potential for industrial products like plant-based plastics, fabric, and sustainable building materials. Moreover, hemp plays a crucial role in soil regeneration, storing carbon and nutrients to improve both water and soil quality.

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Pennsylvania has invested more than $1.1 million through the PA Farm Bill and other programs to support research and innovation in the hemp industry. Since the start of the Shapiro Administration, over $500,000 has been awarded, pushing total investments in the hemp sector to $1.5 million.

Cedar Meadow Farm’s owner, Steve Groff, is a pioneer in regenerative agriculture. He has practiced no-till farming and planted cover crops for over three decades. Groff was among the first Pennsylvania farmers to grow hemp when it became legal under federal law. His work has made him a mentor to other farmers nationwide as the hemp industry continues to expand.

The Impact of Agricultural Innovation
  1. Economic Growth: Investment in agricultural innovation can drive economic growth. New technologies and practices can increase farm productivity and profitability, making Pennsylvania a hub for agricultural advancement.
  2. Environmental Benefits: Regenerative farming practices, such as those employed at Cedar Meadow Farm, enhance soil health and water quality. These practices contribute to sustainable agriculture by reducing erosion, improving biodiversity, and sequestering carbon.
  3. Job Creation: The agriculture sector is a significant employer. By supporting innovative practices and new industries like hemp, the state can create more jobs and strengthen rural economies.
  4. Sustainable Future: With climate change posing increasing risks, sustainable agricultural practices are essential. Innovations in agriculture can help mitigate environmental impacts and ensure food security for future generations.
Paving the Path to Sustainable Agriculture

Governor Shapiro’s visit to Cedar Meadow Farm emphasizes the importance of agriculture in Pennsylvania’s economic and environmental strategies. The proposed funding and programs aim to create a resilient agricultural sector capable of adapting to modern challenges.

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By championing innovation and sustainability, Pennsylvania sets an example for other states. The focus on regenerative agriculture and renewable energy aligns with broader national and global trends towards sustainable development.

Pennsylvania’s Agri-Future

Governor Shapiro’s 2024-25 budget proposal and the Agriculture Innovation program represent a forward-thinking approach to agriculture. By investing in new technologies and sustainable practices, Pennsylvania aims to maintain its status as a national leader in agriculture while promoting economic growth and environmental stewardship. The visit to Cedar Meadow Farm highlights the potential of these initiatives to transform the state’s agricultural landscape, ensuring prosperity and sustainability for years to come.

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