PSCFO BOARD SEEKS RENEWAL OF AG FUNDING
On August 16, the PA State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) Board met at AG Progress Days to discuss Harrisburg’s State Budget impasse. While not getting into various revenue options, PSCFO will be urging legislators to pass the so-called “non-preferred” bills which supply funding to institutions of higher learning. These enable Ag funding for two agricultural programs, the ones at Penn State (Land Scrip Fund – extension and agriculture research) and the University of Pennsylvania (Vet School). Penn State’s School of Agricultural Sciences is additionally hampered because federal funds to the school cannot be released until funding enabling legislation is passed by the General Assembly. On August 12, PSCFO sent out an advisory to Council members detailing the situation and urging action.
WOLF TOUTS ADMINISTRATION SUPPORT OF AGRICULTURE
In an address to a capacity crowd at AG Progress Days, Governor Tom Wolf called PA Agriculture one of the Commonwealth’s most important economic and environmental resources. In the speech, he said that since 2015, PA Department of Agriculture operational funding has been increased by 23%, that two million additional dollars were allocated for avian influenza planning and response, and that farmland preservation funding had increased by 45% compared to fiscal year 2014-15. In addition, three million dollars were allocated to distribute fresh farm products to the needy through PA’s food banks. The Governor charted an ambitious 10-year strategic plan for PA Agriculture including increasing PA’s competitiveness and developing a workforce to meet PA’s future needs.
FARMLAND PRESERVATION UPDATE
On August 11, the PA Department of Agriculture announced that it added 33 farms in 12 counties to the roster of 5,169 farms in 59 counties preserved for future agricultural production.
- PA Wine Marketing & Research Program Board grant applications deadline are due to PA Department of Agriculture Bureau of Market Development ATT: Agricultural Commodity Board Grant Program, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17011 by September 1, 2017.
- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cancelled the August 24 meeting of the Agricultural Advisory Board. The next meeting is scheduled for October 26, 2017.
- DEP announced that the annual Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report which was submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is available. (Water Quality Division 717-787-9637 or RA-WQAssessments@pa.gov ) This report documents PA’s water quality management programs per the federal Clean Water Act. The report also identifies “impaired” waters even after appropriate pollution control technology has been applied to point sources and best practices are in place for nonpoint sources.
- On August 11, the PA Department of Agriculture August 11 identified 21 additional municipalities in Berks, Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton Counties to be quarantined due to the presence of the invasive insect, Spotted Lanternfly. Parts of Chester County were previously quarantined.
NATIVE AMERICAN AG SCHOLARSHIPS …The First Nation Development Institute is now accepting applications for five $1,000 scholarships to Native American college students majoring in agriculture and related fields such as agribusiness, agriscience, animal husbandry, horticulture, irrigation, food safety, etc. Deadline for applications is September 28, 2017. Details: www.firstnations.org/grantmaking/scholarship .
SCHOLARSHIPS 2017-18 AND BEYOND
It is not too early to look at scholarships for the 2018-19 college year. Just updated, www.scholarships.com has a list of at least 100 agriculture-specific scholarships. Some are state-specific but many should be considered as active leads for any current student or enrolling student. Details: https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-major/agriculture-scholarships/
PENNSYLVANIA’S COLLEGE AGRICULTURE PROGRAMS
In addition to the Big Three (Penn State University, Delaware Valley University and University of Pennsylvania), there are other Pennsylvania colleges and universities offering agricultural studies. (www.american-school-search.com/colleges/agriculture/pennsylvania )
- Temple University has three agriculture majors: Chatham University (Pittsburgh) has two majors as does Pennsylvania College of Technology (Williamsport)
- Degree programs: Wilson College (Chambersburg), Arcadia University (Glenside)
- Associate degrees: Bidwell Training Center (Pittsburgh) and Harcum College (Bryn Mawr). A specialized program is offered by PA Institute of Taxidermy (Ebensburg)
- Community and regional colleges: Westmoreland County Community College (Youngwood), Schuylkill Technology Center (Frackville), Harrisburg Area Community College, Community College of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Lancaster County Career and Technology Center (Willow Street)