HARRISBURG, Pa. - At the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the Wolf Administration announced approval of $500,000 in grants. The grants will be used to fund 55 projects to improve agriculture education in the state.
The Pennsylvania Farm show will attract about half a million people to experience Pennsylvania agriculture. But, in the coming decade the industry is expected to face a a shortage of 75,000 workers.
"That $500,000 is that impetuous to inspire more education regarding how we create pennsylvania preferred," said State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, (D) Luzerne County. "And how we continue to make pennsylvania a leading agriculture state in the entire country."
Schools and programs in Cumberland, Franklin, York, Lancaster, and Perry Counties will collectively receive nearly $85,000 to purchase things like agriculture and aquaponics equipment, animal pens, and fund a community garden program.
"We are hopeful that there are more students who at the end of all this are interested in exploring careers of agriculture," said Pennsylvania's Dept. of Ag Secretary Russell Redding.
Student interest in the industry is also what Michael Riggs, state secretary of Pennsylvania's Future Farmers of America thinks will happen. He knows first-hand what it's like to not be able to work on certain projects because of lack of funding.
"Throughout high school there were certain projects that I wanted to do and I couldn't because I didn't have the money to do it," said Riggs. "Therefore these grants are going to give students the opportunity to explore their interests and do things that would otherwise be holding them back."
Monday's grant announcement was just a small portion of the P.A. Farm Bill. Another $500,000 in grants will be announced in the future to be used to fund AG programs for kids in pre-k through 5th grade.