HARRISBURG, Pa. — Governor-elect Josh Shapiro made an appearance at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Jan. 11. His speech at the Farm Show’s Public Officials Day luncheon revealed parts of the upcoming administration’s plans to support farmers and agriculture in the coming year.
Shapiro mentioned a plan to support small and independent farmers make the large capital investments needed in agriculture.
“I think we need a capital fund specifically set aside for our farmers, especially for our small farmers who need that extra capital to be able to take that next step,” he said. “We will get that done in my administration.”
That’s a needed measure for farmers like Aleesha Dixon, a dairy farmer in Bernville. She said she wants to start her own dairy farm but is struggling to get enough capital because she will not inherit a farm from her family.
“Feed, the supplies to supply everything, housing,” she said. “It's a big cost and I think the smaller guys, if you haven't had it generation to generation handed down, it is a little more difficult to do on your own.”
Shapiro’s visit came one day after he re-nominated current Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding to continue his tenure. Under Redding’s leadership, the Department of Agriculture has worked on issues like reducing unnecessary regulation, encouraging organic farming and opening the industry to more people through ideas like urban farming.
“That agriculture has a seat at every table. That regardless of who you are, you have a seat at the ag table,” Redding said.
Agriculture officials said another top priority is expanding high-speed internet access to rural areas.
The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority will hold a session at the Farm Show on Thursday to finalize an official broadband access map. That will be used to plan broadband expansion.