Pennsylvania Farm Vitality Planning Grants: A Golden Opportunity for Farmers to Thrive

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture,

HARRISBURG, PA — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced this week that the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center is now accepting applications for its Farm Vitality Planning Grants. With a fund of $500,000 allocated in the 2023-24 budget under the PA Farm Bill, these grants aim to fortify the state’s agricultural sector by supporting strategic business planning for farm expansion, diversification, or transition of ownership.

“Strategic business planning is critical for farmers exploring what will keep their farm not just getting by, but thriving in years to come,” Secretary Redding stated. The Farm Vitality Grants are designed to provide farmers with access to market analysis, financial planning, risk management, and other expertise necessary to adapt, innovate, and safeguard their agricultural legacy.

Since their inception in 2019, the Farm Vitality Grants have already bolstered over $2.2 million in project planning, providing financial and technical expertise to aid growth opportunities for 316 Pennsylvania farms. Among the beneficiaries are 115 owners of preserved farms, which, through meticulous planning, remain productive and secure the investment that both the farm family and the public have committed to protect their land from development.

Farmers and prospective farmers can apply for up to $7,500, which will cover up to 75% of project planning costs. Applications will be accepted until funds are expended, offering a golden opportunity for those seeking to enhance their farming venture.

The Farm Vitality Planning Grants can be coupled with other PA Farm Bill funding programs, thus amplifying their impact. These include the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program, which offers tax credits as an incentive to those who sell or rent agricultural assets to beginning farmers. To date, this program has saved 38 farm owners a collective $760,829 on their taxes, facilitating the transfer of agricultural stewardship to the next generation.

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Also available is the Beginning Farmer Realty Transfer Tax Exemptions program, which has certified 54 beginning farmers purchasing preserved farms, generating $612,541 in tax savings on the sale of those farms.

The Next Generation Farmer Loan Program is another key resource for farmers seeking financial support. This program leverages federal tax-exempt financing to reduce a farmer’s interest rate for capital purchases, helping young families fund farm expansions and purchases. In 2023 alone, 17 farmers qualified for $9.26 million in low-interest, tax-exempt loans.

These initiatives, collectively, represent a significant investment in Pennsylvania’s agricultural sector, reinforcing its role as a pillar of the state’s economy and community life. By providing resources to help farmers innovate, expand, and transition their businesses to future generations, the state is not only securing the economic viability of individual farms but also ensuring the sustainability of the broader agricultural landscape.

The Farm Vitality Planning Grants and associated programs reflect a commitment to supporting the resilience of Pennsylvania’s farming communities in the face of economic and environmental challenges. They underscore the importance of strategic planning and investment in ensuring that farms can adapt, innovate, and thrive in an ever-changing world.

Farmers interested in applying for the Farm Vitality Planning Grants or exploring other resources can visit the Agricultural Business Development Center at agriculture.pa.gov. As Secretary Redding emphasized, these grants are part of the “real, tangible solutions” that the Shapiro Administration is investing in to address the most pressing problems facing Pennsylvania’s agricultural sector and the people it feeds.

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