Ag Viability Study & Recommendations Released

November 2015, Wysox PA -- After a series of conferences and committee meetings conducted to help construct a current and fluid model of the agricultural landscape in Bradford County, the Agricultural Viability Study & Program has been finalized.

Noted in the Executive Summary:  Bradford County Pennsylvania, along with the entire Endless Mountains Heritage Region that includes Bradford, Susquehanna, Sullivan and Wyoming counties, has a long heritage built on the scope and development of agriculture. Farms, their products, and the industries that they support through their operations are the primary drivers and backbone of the county and region’s economy.

Direct program support for agriculture in the Heritage Region has existed through the traditional technical, informational and financial programming provided by USDA and the State.  Of note is the PA Farmland Preservation Program, which matches local county contributions with state dollars to purchase the development rights for qualifying and high value farms to place them in perpetual easements as “forever farms”. This program is based on the ability of the local counties to provide those initial match dollars. However, due to the rural economies that often are below state and federal levels, this becomes a challenge. The result is that while agriculture and the farms are the backbone of the economy, the region is one of the least able to participate in the preservation of the foundation elements of that economy.

Most of the farm families engaged in the farming operations in the Endless Mountains Heritage Region are families that have owned and operated them for several generations. They have cultural, historic and heredity ties both to the land and the operation. This strong connection to the farm has resulted in significant interest in seeing that the “family farm” be maintained in farming even in cases where there exists a possibility of sale of the farm. Economic conditions, an aging farmer population, and the migration of youth from the area have begun to result in an increasing interest by farmers in entering into a farm retention/preservation program that will assure that the “family” farm will continue to exist as a farm. Additionally, there is a strong emergence of niche, specialty and locally produced and marketed farm operations. Coupled with the interest by community planners, the community at large and the economic impacts of farming, developing methods to make this sustainably possible and profitable becomes a high priority to community leaders.

This project plan identifies and makes the following recommendations for both the enhancement and direct sustainability of the agricultural economy and culture so inherent and vital to the county and region:

1. Identify a host organizations and establish a county or regional position/office of Agricultural Economic Development to directly support and enhance the economic viability of agricultural industry, identify potential markets for products and assist in development of new agricultural related operations/industries opportunities

2. Continue to determine the current and emerging character of Bradford County agriculture in order to better position support and resources to assist in development and transitions

3. Provide a comprehensive support system and network to assist future farming operations in the county. Identify potential farm operations that can and are willing to serve as mentors for future farmers and public example of farming

4. Determine what service groups and service programs currently exist to support agriculture in the county and where needs are not being met and develop programs to meet unmet needs

5. Identify the current and potential venues for the marketing of Bradford County agricultural products

6. Establish a link (WEB) for farmers seeking farming opportunities in Bradford County that connects them with available existing farm and agricultural support industry resources

7. Establish a comprehensive resource directory of agricultural resources, information, programmatic assistance and natural resource information that compiles and/or links information across both agencies and organizations at all levels so that information is easily accessed and understandable

The full report is available here (click to open the 80 page pdf document)


Agricultural Coalition for Bradford County Moves Forward

January 22, 2013, Wysox PA - With the “Many Voices of Bradford County’s Agricultural Future” summit behind them, the Agricultural Coalition of Bradford County has held two organizational meetings and has begun moving forward.  At the meeting held on January 17th, a mission statement was drafted and several work groups organized.  Participants are now being sought to help with the effort of charting the future of the backbone industry of Bradford County.

The mission of the Agricultural Coalition of Bradford County is to assist in the retention, growth, and promotion of Bradford County’s agricultural industry.  

In deciding where to begin the road towards assuring a strong agricultural future for the County, the group looked to the rich and diverse feedback that was collected during the recent Summit.  During the Summit, the over 75 participants representing many aspects of Bradford County’s agriculture broke into small facilitated groups who each addressed individual visions for agriculture as well as the challenges they saw.  At the end of the Summit, each group reported out and the input summarized.  As a whole, Summit participants agreed that all the input could fall under 10 different themes that included: Profitability & Sustainability; Education; Ag Community Cohesion; Ag Land Retention; Unbiased Research Information; Next Generation; Ag Tourism; Energy; Marketing; and Infrastructure.   During the January meeting, the nearly 20 participants that are serving as the “ad hoc” steering committee all agreed that many of the themes overlapped and included aspects of others.  It was decided that 3 main committees would begin work of the following themes: Profitability & Sustainability; Ag Land Retention; and Education.  ...