Growing Pennsylvania’s Future: young farmers organize for policy wins


At the heart of the National Young Farmers Coalition’s work is the belief that farmers are their own best advocates, and the work that farmers have accomplished in Pennsylvania this past year affirms that.

This year, an incredible group of young farmers in western Pennsylvania organized the Western Pennsylvania Young Farmers Coalition. This April, farmer members from their chapter joined farmers from the long-standing Young Farmers Coalition of Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter to discuss the challenges that young farmers face in Pennsylvania with legislators in Harrisburg.

These farmers spoke with legislators about a variety of barriers and policy solutions, including access to land and the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit (SB 478), a bill that would incentivize landowners to sell and lease land to young farmers. Kim Cook, a chapter leader of the Young Farmers Coalition of Southeastern Pennsylvania, returned to Harrisburg the week after our lobby day to speak at a press conference in support of the bill.

Due in part to this legislative engagement from young farmers across the state, SB 478—a $5 million state tax credit to help young farmers access farmland—passed the legislature and was signed into law by the Governor. Alongside this bill, the Pennsylvania legislature passed the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, the most ambitious set of legislative investments in Pennsylvanian agriculture seen in a very long time.

Building off of this recent success, we will work together with our chapters and partners over the coming months to help implement these measures, and build a policy platform for the next legislative session based on the findings and recommendations in our recently published report, Growing Pennsylvania’s Future.

Summarizing findings from three farmer listening sessions and a state-wide survey, this report looks at the challenges that young and beginning farmers face in Pennsylvania and the policies and programs they need to ensure a successful, sustainable future for agriculture in the state. Through this work, we found three main barriers standing in the way of success for young farmers across Pennsylvania: land access, agricultural workforce development, and farmer business services. We hope that legislators, technical service providers, and partner organizations will view this report as a roadmap to a brighter farming future in Pennsylvania.

Across Pennsylvania, young farmers are breaking ground, organizing, and talking to their elected officials about the challenges they face and the programs and policies that would help them.

 

If you’d like to get involved, get in touch with us!

Young Farmers Coalition of Southeastern Pennsylvania: youngfarmerspa@gmail.com

The Western Pennsylvania Young Farmers Coalition: western.penna.yfc@gmail.com

Adrienne Nelson, Western Pennsylvania Organizer: adrienne@youngfarmers.org

Karen Gardner, Pennsylvania Policy Associate: karen@youngfarmers.org

 

 

 

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