- February 24, 2015: deadline to submit pre-proposals for USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants for “environmental markets and conservation projects that engage agricultural producers.” Details: http://go.usa.gov/4Kvx Sylvia Rainford 202/720-2536.
- February 27, 2015 deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program for ranchers and forest landowners. Applications should be submitted to local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offices. Details: www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted
- February 27, 2015, deadline to submit Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant proposals to Morgan Sheffield, PDA Bureau of Market Development 717/787-3568.
- March 2, 2015: Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for “projects that promote environmental stewardship and economic development in the state.” Projects must have been completed between August 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014. Example areas: Innovative Technology; Energy Solutions; Environmental Education; Watershed Restoration. Only electronic nominations (including self) will be accepted. Details: http://files.dep.state.pa.us/AboutDEP/AwardsAndInnovation/GovernorAwardForEnvExcellence/2015%20GAEE%20Guidelines%20Final.pdf
- March 9, 2015: deadline for Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program. REAP provides tax credits to agricultural producers who install best management practices or purchase on-farm no-till equipment that reduces soil erosion and sedimentation in PA’s streams and rivers. Applications are available at www.pda.state.pa.us/REAP under ‘Forms’ or Joel Semke, State Conservation Commission 717/705-4032.
- March 15, 2015: Crop Insurance enrollment deadline for new AGR-Lite whole farm revenue new applications; spring barley, corn, forage seeding (spring), grain sorghum, oats (spring), soybeans, tobacco. (Thanks to Penn State Professor of Agricultural Economics Jayson Harper) PDA contact is Jordan Stasyszn 717/6901
• House Bill 1550 (Milne-R-Chester) establishes the PA Business Development Authority as an attempt to consolidate several state loan programs into one entity. The PA Industrial Development Program as part of this consolidation specifies that loans made to an industrial project may not “cause the removal of an industrial enterprise, manufacturing enterprise, research & development enterprise, AGRICULTURE PRODUCER or AGRICULTURAL PROCESSOR from one area of this Commonwealth to another area of this Commonwealth.” Status: Presented to the Governor October 15.
• House Bill 1996 (Lawrence-R-Chester) seeks to clarify the amount and percentage of the total paid to dairy farmers that comes from “over order premiums”, the Milk Marketing Board fee that is supposed to be returned to the farmer to help offset production costs. Status: Passed House 153-42 on October 14 and referred to the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee October 15.
• Senate Bill 76 (Argall-R-Schuylkill), the property tax reform bill to eliminate school property taxes and replace them with an increase in Personal Income Tax and elimination of numerous exemptions of the sales tax, was tabled by the Senate October 16, ending its legislative journey for this legislative session.
• Senate Bill 491 (Folmer-R-Lebanon) states that if an individual’s declaration of estimated tax shows 2/3 of total income for the year comes from farming, the estimated tax may be paid at any time of the year on or before January 15 of the succeeding year. Although originally non-controversial, the bill died when the House Finance Committee September 22 amended SB 491 to allow for taxation options in lieu of the traditional school district property tax.
Loans of up to $200,000 are available for homeowners and loans of up to $2 million are available for businesses to restore damaged or destroyed buildings, inventory, equipment and assets. Details: 800/659-2955. The Disaster Loan Outreach Center is located in Ridgeway.
USDA is seeking applications from small businesses and agricultural producers for funding (both loans and grants) to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees. Businesses not involved directly in production agriculture may also apply.
Mentioned in the USDA announcement was a PA veterinary practice in Curryville, Blair County, PA which received a $10,525 REAP grant to install solar panels on his roof. Details: Dawn Bonsell 717-237-2286 or Jay Fletcher 202/690-0498.
USDA May 8 announced that $78 million in Farm Bill resources for local and regional food systems including farmers markets, processing facilities, distribution services and other local food business enterprises is available.
This funding comes from Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program (B&I) and the Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program. AMS’ deadline is June 20, 2014.