One answer to keeping people in farming: more state programs

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Oct 13, 2014 1:03 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Compared to 2007, fewer farms are in operation across many midstate counties, and legislators are trying to figure out how they can support those who want to stay in the industry.

Two state Senators -- Judy Schwank of Berks County and Rob Teplitz of Dauphin County -- recently held a public forum in Perry County, where they heard concerns about regulations, transportation infrastructure and the next generation of farmers.

Teplitz says many think more assistance is necessary.

"There are some very good programs at the state level or even at the local level funded with state dollars that don't have enough resources, and that those are worthwhile investments that we need to make in order to get long-term benefits," he says.

Some are asking for additional Penn State Agriculture Extension agents, who help make farms successful through education. Their ranks have been thinned by budget cuts.

The number of farms in Northumberland and Perry counties fell at least 10 percent between 2007 and 2012, some of the highest rates in the midstate.

However, Lancaster and Franklin gained farms, although at a slower rate.

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