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Help in Pennsylvania for Those Turning Organic

16 April 2009

PENNSYLVANIA, US - Pennsylvania producers working to transition their conventional operations to certified organic farms may be eligible for help offsetting the costs of making the change, said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff.

The Path to Organic Program provides grants to farmers switching to certified organic production practices. The application deadline is 31 July.

"The Path to Organic grants are a significant investment in agriculture, our state's number one industry," said Wolff. "When producers determine that a change is necessary to promote their products to particular markets or to implement particular management practices, the process can sometimes be long and the required investments can be daunting. Through programs like the Path to Organic, we can help producers make the transition and remain profitable into the future."

The program also evaluates organic production practices as tools in improving soil health, protecting water quality, and gathering atmospheric carbon on a pilot basis outside of the traditional research environment. "Maintaining good soil health and high water quality is essential to keeping agriculture viable in Pennsylvania, and exploring the potential benefits of organic and other production practices is an important step in understanding how to achieve this goal," said Wolff.

The Path to Organic program offers funding to eligible for-profit enterprises that produce farm commodities, including agricultural, horticultural, aquaculture, vegetable, fruit and floricultural products; livestock and meats; poultry and eggs; dairy products; nuts; mushrooms; honey products; and forest products.

Grant payments will not exceed $7,500 in a single calendar year or $30,000 in a four-year period and will reimburse participants for costs directly related to organic transition, including building, machinery and equipment, and operational costs.

The Path to Organic grant program is part of the department's Center for Farm Transitions, which provides consultation and resources for producers looking to enter farming or transition their operation to new markets or future generations.

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