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Pennsylvania Governor advocates $10M hemp farm grant

Pennsylvania Governor advocates $10M hemp farm grant

By Blake Jackson

Pennsylvania's agricultural future took center stage as Governor Josh Shapiro visited a hemp farm in Lancaster County, advocating for a $10 million grant program to propel farmers towards innovative practices.

Emphasizing the importance of agricultural investment for the state's prosperity, Shapiro underscored the need to transition from heritage appreciation to future-focused strategies.

Echoing Shapiro's sentiments, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding highlighted the lack of avenues for innovation support in the past, outlining the proposed grant program as a pivotal step forward.

Redding emphasized its complementarity with existing initiatives like the Resource Enhancement and Protection tax credit, aiming to enhance farm efficiency and competitiveness while addressing environmental concerns, including climate change mitigation.

The bipartisan passage of the Agriculture Innovation Grant Program bill signified legislative endorsement for this transformative initiative.

The program's scope encompasses diverse practices aimed at improving farm productivity and resilience, with a nod towards climate-friendly methodologies.

Shapiro, during discussions post-press conference, delved into the insights gleaned from local farmers like Samuel Conner and Steve Groff. Conner's revelation about industrial fiber hemp's carbon-sequestering capabilities underscored the potential of innovative agricultural practices in climate stewardship.

Groff, a pioneer in agricultural innovation, highlighted the practical benefits of carbon sequestration through practices like cover cropping. His endorsement of Shapiro's grants program extended to its potential to bolster the hemp industry and revive the state's textile sector.

Pennsylvania's commitment to agricultural innovation predates the grant proposal, evident in initiatives like the establishment of centers of excellence for plant agriculture and organics.

Redding also expressed optimism about the future of the dairy industry, citing ongoing efforts to support dairy farmers through initiatives like Dairy Margin Coverage.

However, not all innovative proposals find unanimous support, as evidenced by the debate surrounding the production and sale of lab-grown meat.

While Redding acknowledged the importance of fostering innovation, he remained cautious about initiatives that could adversely impact the state's agricultural landscape.

Looking ahead, Shapiro's proposals for a new veterinary lab and restored funding for Penn Vet underscore the multifaceted approach towards strengthening Pennsylvania's agricultural infrastructure. As the state budget deadline looms, the push for agricultural innovation remains a cornerstone of Pennsylvania's economic and environmental vision.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-fotografixx

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