PA Agriculture Secretary Recognizes Innovative Lehigh County Project During National AG Day

March 20, 2009

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff recognized the vital role farmers and agribusinesses play in the lives of Pennsylvanians today as he helped unveil the Seem Family Seed Farm Incubator Project in Allentown, Lehigh County.

The visit marked today’s observance of National Agriculture Day. Governor Edward G. Rendell also proclaimed today “Agriculture Day” in Pennsylvania as part of National Agriculture Week, which runs from March 15-21.

“National Agriculture Day is an opportunity for us to recognize the hard work done by Pennsylvania’s 63,000 farm families to provide a safe and abundant food supply,” said Wolff. “Understanding the work done by our farmers creates awareness for the public of where their food comes from, and will also hopefully spark some new interest in agriculture. From small family or community gardens to full time dairy farms, there are opportunities for everyone in agriculture.”

The incubator project is owned by Lehigh County and is situated on 451 acres of farmland in Upper Milford and Lower Milford townships. The mission of the seed farm is to help train new farmers and establish new sustainable agricultural enterprises in the county.

Pennsylvania has long been a national leader in preserving farmland, with more than 400,000 acres preserved to date,” said Wolff. “We are also working with projects like the Seem Family Seed Farm to cultivate the next generation of farmers who will be stewards of that farmland. This project will help prepare them to continue the rich tradition of agriculture in the state and keep Pennsylvania growing.”

Wolff said that Pennsylvania’s farm landscape is changing, and that state and local programs are helping farmers adapt and prepare for the future. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent census, Pennsylvania has seen an increase of 5,000 farms since 2002, while the average farm size has reduced from 133 acres to 124.

At the direction of Governor Rendell, the Department of Agriculture has implemented innovative statewide programs to help farmers enter the industry, remain profitable and plan for the future of their farms.

Part of the economic development team at the Department of Agriculture, the Center for Farm Transitions provides resources, including consultations, information and referrals to knowledgeable and experienced professionals, that will serve farmers as they look to transition into agriculture, new agricultural enterprises and to the next generation of farmers. For more information on the center, visit www.iplantofarm.com.

The PAgrows program provides technical help for farmers, processors and agribusinesses in their funding needs. Using programs such as the First Industries Fund and Farm Service Agency loans, PAgrows seeks to find the best method to secure funding for your agricultural project. For more information, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and follow the links to PAgrows.

    CONTACT: Chris L. Ryder
             (717) 787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Source: newswire

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