Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced the availability of $5 million in grant funding to help Pennsylvania dairy farmers overcome challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. This historic funding, made available for the first time under the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program, is the most recent of several initiatives from the Wolf Administration to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.
“Today’s market has presented new challenges to dairy farmers that are requiring them to innovate and adapt in order to remain successful,” Governor Wolf said. “The new Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program is a key tool that incentivizes the dairy industry to support the often costly and difficult process of modernizing or expanding their business model or operation. My administration is proud to continue to stand with our hard-working dairy farmers and their families.”
The Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program was established under Act 42 of 2018 and will provide $5 million in grants to eligible applicants for researching new technologies, products and best practices; marketing to new domestic and international markets and exploring new business opportunities to diversify their operation and revenue streams; transitioning to organic production methods; and incorporating or expanding value-added dairy production, such as cheese and yogurt products. The program is now open for applications after guidelines were approved at today’s Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) board meeting.
“These grants will help enable Pennsylvania dairy producers to overcome existing challenges, diversify their businesses, and strengthen their operations to aggressively and effectively compete in an increasingly competitive market,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “This historic funding is not only a critical investment in an industry grappling with difficult global market conditions, but a critical investment in our largest sector of production agriculture and the people whose livelihoods rely on it.”
In August, Secretary Russell Redding unveiled the Wolf Administration’s Dairy Development Plan, designed to guide Pennsylvania’s dairy industry toward growth and development amid a challenging market that also offers tremendous opportunities for producers and processors.
Other measures the administration has taken to support the dairy industry include joining dairy partners to kick off the “Choose PA Dairy: Goodness that Matters” campaign to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry by educating consumers on how to find and buy locally-produced milk, and why it matters to Pennsylvania’s economy and the health of its residents; launching a statewide study by some of the nation’s leading dairy economists in 2017 to evaluate opportunities and inhibitors to growth in the industry; petitioning the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to use the full extent of their statutory and regulatory powers to provide relief to dairy farmers affected by the persistent low-price environment; working to attract new processors to Pennsylvania; and surveying county economic development organizations to create an inventory of sites suitable for a dairy processing operation.
Also at today’s CFA meeting, the board approved four agriculture projects through the First Industries Program to provide assistance to farmers looking to expand their operations:
- Troy and Lynette Gelsinger were approved for a $250,000, 15-year loan at a 2.75 percent rate with a 7-year reset through the Greater Berks Development Fund for the construction of a third 31,500-square-foot poultry house on their 154-acre farm in Heidelberg Township, Berks County. In February 2016, the Gelsingers were approved for a loan through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority for the construction of two broiler houses on their farm. The success of that project led to this addition of a third broiler house. The total project cost is $500,000.
- Frank Fisher Family Limited Partnership was approved for a $375,000, 15-year loan at a 2.75 percent rate with a 7-year reset through the Greater Berks Development Fund for the acquisition of 49.34 tillable acres of land located directly across from the Fisher’s home farm in Oley Township, Berks County. The farm’s primary crops are corn and soybean as well as other vegetables. The family operates a seasonal produce stand on the farm’s property where they sell their crops. The total project cost is $750,000.
- Dean and Jennifer Adams were approved for a $400,000, 15-year loan at a 2.75 percent rate through the Greater Berks Development Fund for the acquisition of a 123.92-acre farm located in Windsor Township, Berks County. The property includes a two-story family dwelling, corn barn, bank barn, pole building, and 93 tillable acres. The Adamses currently operate a 550-acre crop farm and a 68-cow dairy herd. The total project cost is $800,000.
- Epsucheolige and Curtis Hoffman were approved for a $400,000, 15-year loan at a 2.75 percent rate with a 7-year reset through EDC Finance Corporation for the acquisition of a 46.24-acre parcel of land located in Rapho Township, Lancaster County. The property is located directly across from the Hoffman’s existing dairy farm and consists of a single-family dwelling, two barns, a pole building, a 314,000-gallon slurry tank, and thirty-eight tillable acres. The total project cost is $986,253.
More information about the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program can be found on the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) website. To stay up-to-date on all Pennsylvania economic development news, follow DCED on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and be sure to sign up for the department’s monthly e-newsletter.