Agriculture Secretary Announces First Recipients of Farmer Veteran Grants Through PA Farm Bill

During Military Appreciation Day at the 107th Pennsylvania Farm Show, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined MG Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA, PA Veteran Farming Network, and farmer veterans to announce the first recipients of the PA Farm Bill’s Farmer Veteran Grant program.

“I can’t think of a better time or place to announce these first ever PA Farm Bill Farmer Veteran Grant awards to help our veterans enhance and improve their farms and agricultural operations,” said Redding. “More than 7,000 Pennsylvanians are veterans who continue to serve their communities through agriculture. We honor these heroes and thank them for their choice to join our strong and diverse agricultural workforce.”

This Farmer Veteran Grant program is available through the Agriculture Business Development Center which was created by the PA Farm Bill. Through the PA Farm Bill, the Department of Agriculture awarded $200,000 to two veterans’ service organizations, which are offering the farmer veteran grants. Grants of up to $10,000 have been awarded for various agricultural business needs ranging from food safety and biosecurity planning, to equipment, marketing, or working capital.

The farmer veteran grants are available through the following veterans’ service organizations:
• Community Partnership Inc., Butler, Butler County
• Pennsylvania Veteran Farming Network, Greensburg, Westmoreland County

The Pennsylvania Veteran Farming Network announced its 11 recipients today for a total of

The recipients of the grants are:
• Dustin Butler, U.S. Army veteran, Butler Hill Beef, Knoxville: $9,000
o Grant to purchase materials for a stress-free cattle handling area adjacent to existing paddocks, designed for cattle comfort.

• James Cornwell, U.S. Navy veteran, Nine Pines Farm, York: $10,000
o Grant to purchase and install chicken de-boning equipment for thighs and drumsticks, allowing for the addition of chicken sausage to their arsenal of poultry products and reducing waste.

• Donald Flagle, U.S. Army veteran, Ewe View Farm, Needmore: $9,275
o Grant to build a sheep run-in and hay storage facility for the recently purchased
farm. This project will provide comfort and shelter for sheep and secure storage for organic hay.

• William Hopkins, U.S. Army veteran, Hopkins Farm, Falls: $10,000
o Grant to build a new greenhouse. The project will allow for starting seeds early in
the season for timely germination, controlling conditions for the early growth phase for crops and bedding plants, and enhancing profitability.

• Harold Keiner, U.S. Army veteran, Keiner’s Apiary, Wapwallopen: $4,000
o Grant to purchase ten sets of hive woodenware and a wax dipper for use with the
Bee Bootcamp hands-on hive management class for veterans in northeast Pennsylvania.

• Charles Lafferty, PA National Guard, Skyline Pastures, Mohrsville: $5,000
o Grant to install a livestock watering system for the grass-fed beef, forest-raised
pork, and pastured broilers and turkeys on this family farm. Frost-free water hydrants hooked to troughs on float valves will comprise the system, reducing mud and increasing efficiency.

• Shane Lee, DBPL Farm, U.S. Air Force veteran, Westfield: $6,800
o Grant to purchase a woodlander sawmill to mill wood on the land and construct
shelter for his livestock, and eventually, a poultry processing facility on the family
farm where they raise meat goats, rabbits, pigs, and cows.

• Joseph O’Hara, U.S. Navy veteran, HF Orchard LLC, Bloomsburg: $9,650
o Grant to construct a small farm store building with generator and cooler to display
and sell cider and donuts along with other local products, as well as housing a
new pick-your-own apple operation.

• Frederick Tiffany, U.S. Army veteran, Bullard Creek Cattle, Athens: $10,000
o Grant to purchase a new bud box style system which will channel cattle into an
alley connected to a squeeze chute. This equipment will be the last piece
required to complete his new facility and further develop a herd of genetically
advanced registered angus cattle.

• Marcy Tudor, U.S. Air Force veteran, Weatherbury Farms, Avella: $9,800
o Grant to purchase kitchen equipment to be used with their wood-fired oven to
provide value-added baked goods made from the grain they grow.

• Giana VanNice, US Navy veteran, Blue Dog Farms, New Freedom: $10,000
o Grant to install a livestock watering system, which will capture groundwater and
store it in underground tanks, then pump it to the highest point of the property.
The project will allow Blue Dog Farms to rotationally graze effectively, drastically
reduce the time required to haul water uphill, and expand their herd.

“Congratulations to 11 recipients of the Force Multiplier Grants for veteran farmers. You
are outstanding examples of dual service – serving our country in uniform and now serving
Pennsylvania communities as farmers,” said MG Mark Schindler. “We are thankful to Secretary Redding and the Department of Agriculture for recognizing and honoring veterans not only for their service to our country, but also for their hard work in the agricultural industry in service to all Pennsylvanians.”