AG ONE Newsletter December 22, 2017

This end-of-year issue focuses on several resources available to those involved in agriculture.  AG ONE Newsletter hopes that these will be of value to you as you plan for the New Year.  If you know of others, please let us know and AG ONE Newsletter will post them.

BUSINESS & FARM RESOURCES

  • The PA Department of Community & Economic Development announced the Pipeline Investment Program to help communities use some of the natural gas being produced in the Commonwealth. Specifically, it provides grants to construct the last few miles of natural gas distribution lines to business parks and existing manufacturing and industrial firms.  The maximum grant is not more than one million dollars or 50% of project costs, whichever is less. Details: 866-466-3972
  • REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) application packets for 2017-18 are available.  REAP provides tax credits for agricultural producers who make equipment purchases that reduce run-off of nutrients and sediment.  It is administered by the State Conservation Commission which provides support to county conservation districts.  Applications are on a first-come, first served basis.  Farmers may receive tax credits up to $150,000 per agricultural operation for 50-75 percent of the project’s cost.  Details: Joel Semke 717-705-4032 or jsemke@pa.gov.
  • The PA Department of Agriculture is using a grant from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to subsidize training for produce farmers on their compliance responsibilities under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  The subsidy is $130 out of the $150 registration fee so the net cost is $20.  Information and dates of workshops follow: https://extension.psu.edu/fsma-grower-training
  • January 18: Leesport, Berks County
  • January 29: Hershey, Dauphin County
  • February 13: Greensburg, Westmoreland County
  • February 20: Center Valley, Lehigh County
  • February 28: Lancaster, Lancaster County
  • March 6: University Park, Centre County
  • March 8: Biglerville, Adams County
  • The Center for Dairy Excellence is offering grants to dairy farmers to establish a team approach in planning for profitability, farm succession, and “Dairy Transformation”.  These grants are used to assemble a team of advisors and a facilitator and range from $2,000 to $5,000 (more if the Dairy Transformation farm plan involves a renewable energy component.)  Details: “Business Tools” tab on www.centerfordairyexcellence.org or Melissa Anderson 717-346-0849
  • PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has a specialized program, the Agricultural Plan Reimbursement Program, which can cover some of the costs of technical help on plans for pollutant reduction in local streams and rivers.  Deadline to register to participate in the program is April 1, 2018.  Details: Sara Bolton 570-374-5700, sbolton@larsondesignergroup.com for northern counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and Jedd Moncavage 717-721-6795 jeddm@teamaginc.com for southern counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS

  • Center for Dairy Excellence is accepting applications for a summer internship in its Harrisburg office.  DEADLINE IS DECEMBER 31, 2017.  Details: Mary Foote 717-346-0849, mfoote@centerfordairyexcellence.org
  • PA Farm Bureau’s PA Friends of Agriculture is offering scholarships to PFB families to students enrolling at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences or Delaware Valley University College of Agriculture.  In addition, a large animal veterinary studies scholarship is available.  Details: https://www.pfb.com/the-foundation/scholarships
  • PA State Grange offers the Rhone Scholarship to Grange members and families attending Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the PA State Grange Foundation Scholarship, and a Deaf Interpreter Scholarship for those Grange members enrolled in a certification program as an interpreter for the deaf.  Details:  www.pagrange.org
  • National Farmers Union has two scholarships for NFU members.  Details: 202-554-1600, http://nfu.org/education/scholarships
  • Delaware Valley University has 70-plus scholarships listed.  http://www.delval.edu/offices-services/financial-aid/scholarships
  • Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences lists scholarships by major for each of the 23 majors, from Agribusiness to Wildlife & Fisheries Science.  http://agsci.psu.edu/students/scholarships/scholarships
  • Specialized Scholarships:
  • National Dairy Herd Information Association (DHIA) is offering $1,500 scholarships to third or fourth year veterinary students who plan to work in dairy, dairy medicine and are interested in using software and dairy records to aid in dairy management. Details: Holly Thompson, hollyanne1001@gmail.com
  • American Society for Endology & Viticulture offers aid to those intending to have a career in the wine or grape industry. Details: http://asev.org/pod/apply-asev-scholarship
  • Center for Dairy Excellence lists a number of dairy scholarships: National Dairy Promotion & Research Board, National Dairy Shrine, PA Dairy Promotion Program, Dairy Science Scholarship (Delaware Valley University), PA Dairy Innovation Scholarship (Penn State).  Details: 717-346-0849 Jayne Sebright, http://centerfordairyexcellence.org/scholarships
  • Foundation for Rural Service (Rural Broadband Association/NTCA). Details: foundation@frs.org

Wolf Transistion Team includes PSCFO Members

Wolf transition 180x180HARRISBURG – The Wolf Transition Team for PDA includes six individuals from PSCFO member organizations: Chairman Russell Redding, Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Studies, Delaware Valley University.; Dr. MeeCee Baker (Versant Strategies); PSCFO Board member Hannah Smith-Brubaker (PA Farmers Union); Russell Biggica (PA Rural Electric Association); Joel Rotz (PA Farm Bureau); and Robert Maiden (PA Association of Conservation Districts).

PSCFO Members Line up on Property Tax Bill

Property taxHARRISBURG – Some PSCFO member organizations have taken positions on a fiercely contested proposal to revamp the school property tax system and replace those revenues with increases in Personal Income Tax and elimination of many areas now exempted from the state sales tax.  A link to a summary of Senate Bill 76 (Argall-R-Schuylkill) follows:  http://www.senatorargall.com/propertytaxindependenceact/  SB 76 advocates were heartened by a September 16 vote by the Senate Finance Committee which advances the bill much further than ever before.

A major supporter of SB 76 is PSCFO member PA Farm Bureau.  Three PSCFO members — PA Bankers Association, PA Food Merchants Association, and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania — oppose SB 76.  Regardless of SB 76’s outcome this fall, expect the issue of property tax relief to again emerge as an issue in the General Assembly next year.

PLEASE NOTE that PSCFO has taken no official position on this bill or the position it represents.

EPA Extends Water Rule Comment Period

Stream - PAThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) extended the comment period for its proposed Clean Water Act rule until October 20, 2014.

Opposed by Ag interests

The proposal was vigorously opposed by some agricultural interests such as the PA Farm Bureau. The issue deals with whether or not a new EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ definition of waters regulated by the Federal Government will impact most farmers.

Farm Bureau Asks Rule to Be Withdrawn

PA Farm Bureau asked that the proposed rule be withdrawn because it would allow “the agencies to regulate land activities around small creeks, streams and even ditches that only hold water during heavy rain events”. An EPA link provides an avenue for someone seeking to submit public comment. http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm

Member News & Notes

  • Center for Dairy Excellence announced that post-secondary students pursuing a dairy-related career can apply for one of seven $3,000 Student Leader Scholarships supported by the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation and the PA Dairymen’s Association. Apply by June 1. Click here for more information.
  • PA State Grange has two youth camps scheduled this summer at Camp Sylvan Hills in Howard, PA: June 27-29 Youth Camp and June 30-July 5 Junior Camp. Details: 717/737-8855
  • PA Farm Bureau is taking registrations for its Fueling Agriculture & Cultivating Excellence (FACE) conference for young farmers at Bucknell University June 16-20. Details: http://www.pfb.com/images/stories/2014_FACE_YC_RegBochure.pdf
  • PA Assn. for Sustainable Agriculture’s seventh annual Bike Fresh Bike Local fundraising effort to connect consumers to locally grown food starts June 1 (Allegheny County), Details: www.pasafarming.org