Applications for PA’s Farm Vitality Planning Grants for open, fund future farm expansions

23 February 2024- Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced today that the PA Agricultural Business Development Center is taking applications for $500,000 in PA Farm Bill Farm Vitality Planning Grants, funded in the 2023-24 budget. The grants fund strategic business planning to expand or diversify farms or transition of ownership. 

“Strategic business planning is critical for farmers exploring what will keep their farm not just getting by, but thriving in years to come,” Secretary Redding said. “Whether passing a farm on to the next generation, expanding, innovating to bring in new revenue and meet consumer demand, or just changing with the times, Farm Vitality Grants are helping farmers bring in the market analysis, financial planning, risk management and other expertise they need to realize their vision and protect their legacy. These grants are just one of the real, tangible solutions the Shapiro Administration is investing in for the most pressing problems facing the people in Pennsylvania agriculture, and the people they feed.”

The Agricultural Business Development Center’s Farm Vitality Grants, created under the historic PA Farm Bill in 2019, have supported more than $2.2 million in project planning, and financial and technical expertise to support growth opportunities for 316 Pennsylvania farms. This includes planning to help 115 owners of preserved farms remain productive and protect the investment the farm family and the public have made to protect their land from development.

Farmers and prospective farmers are eligible for up to $7,500 to reimburse up to 75% of project planning costs. Applications will be accepted until funds are expended.

Apply online through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s single electronic application. Full program guidelines are published in the February 17 edition of the PA Bulletin.

Farm Vitality Planning Grants can be combined with other PA Farm Bill funding, including these programs and others, to help plan and finance farm transitions:

  • Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program, which provides tax credits as an incentive to those who sell or rent agricultural assets to beginning farmers. Thirty-eight farm owners have received Beginning Farmer Tax Credits, saving them collectively $760,829 on their taxes and helping them pass the torch to the next generation to take up farming.
  • Beginning Farmer Realty Transfer Tax Exemptions through which the department has certified 54 beginning farmers purchasing preserved farms and generating $612,541 in tax savings on the sale of those farms.
  • Next Generation Farmer Loan Program, which uses federal tax-exempt financing to reduce a farmer’s interest rate for capital purchases, to help young families fund farm expansions and purchases. Seventeen farmers qualified for $9.26 million in low-interest, tax-exempt loans in 2023.

For planning resources, financing and other information to support your farm business’ future, visit the Agricultural Business Development Center at agriculture.pa.gov.