Pennsylvania's $10 million agricultural innovation program nears approval

HARRISBURG, PA — Gov. Josh Shapiro's proposed $10 million agriculture innovation program has advanced with strong bipartisan support from the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. House Bill 2310, which establishes the program, aims to address complex agricultural and environmental challenges and ensure Pennsylvania's $132.5 billion agriculture industry continues to be a national leader.

The bill amends Title 3 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, creates the Agriculture Innovation Grant Program, and establishes regulations. The House of Representatives removed the bill from the floor on June 5, 2024.

“Innovation in agriculture means finding new and better ways to make farming more profitable, efficient and sustainable,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Developing new ideas and technologies and then putting those innovations into practice on farms are the first two steps to solving the most costly and complex environmental and economic challenges of our time. Step three is investing. Without all three steps, innovation will not become a reality.”

“Governor Shapiro’s proposed $10 million Agriculture Innovation Fund is an investment that will keep Pennsylvania at the forefront of exciting developments in conservation and regenerative agriculture. We are pleased that the General Assembly supports this investment.”

The program would allow the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to provide grants to farmers and agricultural operations to implement new technologies and practices. These innovations aim to increase efficiency, generate renewable energy, and improve soil and water resources.

Examples of possible projects include technologies that improve agricultural operations or processing efficiency, generate energy while reducing nutrient waste, or support crops that store carbon or replace non-renewable resources.

The Agriculture Innovation Fund will build on the Shapiro administration's existing conservation efforts, which include an additional $1.5 million from Pennsylvania's Clean Streams Fund Nutrient Management Program for conservation research. The Clean Streams Fund, which includes the Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program, was established with $220 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Transforming Pennsylvania Agriculture: Sustainable Practices for a Better Future

The importance of this initiative goes beyond the immediate agricultural benefits. By promoting sustainable practices, Pennsylvania can ensure long-term environmental health and economic stability. The program's focus on renewable energy and conservation aligns with broader efforts to combat climate change and reduce dependence on nonrenewable resources.

In addition, this initiative could serve as a model for other states that want to modernize their agriculture. By investing in innovation, Pennsylvania is positioning itself as a leader in sustainable agriculture and can thus gain further research and development opportunities.

In summary, the Agriculture Innovation Program is an important step toward modernizing Pennsylvania's agriculture industry. The initiative, which enjoys broad bipartisan support, aims to make agriculture more sustainable and profitable while addressing critical environmental issues. With House Bill 2310 nearing passage, it promises to strengthen Pennsylvania's commitment to innovative and sustainable agriculture.

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Anna Harden

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