Friday, May 29, 2009

Transition to Organic Grant Opportunity

We recently received notification from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) of the following grant opportunity geared toward those interested in transitioning to organic production.

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. Application deadline is July 31, 2009. For more info, click on the green title above, or call Jared Grissinger at 1-888-PAGrows.

The PASA website is also keeping track of grant opportunities for farmers. To read more on the opportunities available, click here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Money Money Money Money Money Money Money...

Now....THAT got your attention, didn't it?

We just received information on the SBA's new America's Recovery Capital (ARC) loan program, allowing deferred-payment loans of up to $35,000 to "established, viable, for-profit small businesses." For more information on the loan program, click here.

The ARC program was created as a no-interest, deferred payment loan to help small businesses that have a history of good performance, but as a result of the tough economy, are struggling to make debt payments.

ARC loans will be disbursed within a period of up to six months and will provide funds to be used for payments of principal and interest for existing, qualifying small business debt including mortgages, term and revolving lines of credit, capital leases, credit card obligations and notes payable to vendors, suppliers and utilities. Repayment will not begin until 12 months after the final disbursement. Borrowers don't have to pay interest on ARC loans. After the 12-moth deferral period, borrowers will pay back the loan principal over a period of five years.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

2007 Agricultural Census

Well, the results are in! Yes, the 2007 Agricultural Census is available. Some of the results are not at all surprising to us, and others are enough to win a trivial pursuit game, so we'll share those too.

The Census of Agriculture is conducted by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) every five years. It takes a complete count of U.S. farms and the people who operate them. It also examines land use, operator characteristics, production practices, and farm income/expenditures.

The link above provides data on the PA level, however, you can also obtain data on a national level and county level.

Some of the highlights include:
  • There were 63,163 farms in PA in 2007 (up 9% from 2002).
  • The counties with the largest increase in farms were Montour, Philadelphia, and Wyoming (each up more than 80%).
  • The counties who lost farms were Chester, Lehigh, Susquehanna and Washington (down 9% or more).
  • PA farms sold more than $5.8 billion in agricultural products.
  • 51% of the above sales figure occurred in the counties of Adams, Berks, Chester, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York.
  • Farms with sales between $25,000 to $49,999 increased the fastest (25%).
  • Farms with sales between $50,000 to $99,999 had the largest decrease (20%).
  • 40 of PA's 67 counties gained farmland. The counties with the largest increases? Delaware, Forest and Pike (50% or more).
  • 29 counties lost farmland, among them Susquehanna, Washington and Wayne had the greatest decline (more than 15%).
  • In 2002, the average cost of fuel per acre was $16.20...in 2007 it was $31.45 per acre.
  • PA has 680 organic farms (ranking PA 6th in the nation in terms of organic farming).
  • Women were the principal operators of 8,550 farms (13% of all farms)--an increase of 41% over 2002 figures.
  • 46% of all PA farms have barns built before 1960 (being a barn enthusiast, I find this interesting--just in case you are wondering why I threw it in).
  • 379 farms in PA marketed products through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Lancaster and Chester counties had the most CSAs.
  • Bradford County and Fulton County have more cows than people (this is for the trivial pursuit game).

For more information on the Census of Agriculture, be sure to visit the link above.