Veteran farmers in Pennsylvania receive nearly $100,000 in grants

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Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Mimi Thomas-Brooker, PA Veteran Farming Project Executive Director, Major General Mark J. Schindler, and Rhonda Smith, PA Veteran Farming Network Board Chair with the recipients of the PA Farm Bill’s Farmer Veteran Grant program.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Veteran Farming Network announced recipients for nearly $100,000 in grants to farmers across the state.

This is the first batch of recipients of the Farmer Veteran Grant program. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture awarded $200,000 to two veterans service organizations to distribute. Grants of up to $10,000 were available for various business needs, ranging from food safety and biosecurity planning to equipment, marketing or working capital. 

The recipients were announced Jan. 12 during the Pennsylvania Farm Show by Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and MG Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the department of military and veterans affairs. 

The recipients are as follows

• Dustin Butler, U.S. Army veteran, Butler Hill Beef, Knoxville: $9,000 to purchase materials for a stress-free cattle handling area adjacent to existing paddocks, designed for cattle comfort.

• James Cornwell, U.S. Navy veteran, Nine Pines Farm, York: $10,000 to purchase and install chicken de-boning equipment for thighs and drumsticks, allowing for the addition of chicken sausage to their arsenal of poultry products and reducing waste.

• Donald Flagle, U.S. Army veteran, Ewe View Farm, Needmore: $9,275 to build a sheep run-in and hay storage facility for the recently purchased farm. This project will provide comfort and shelter for sheep and secure storage for organic hay.

• William Hopkins, U.S. Army veteran, Hopkins Farm, Falls: $10,000 to build a new greenhouse. The project will allow for starting seeds early in the season for timely germination, controlling conditions for the early growth phase for crops and bedding plants, and enhancing profitability.

• Harold Keiner, U.S. Army veteran, Keiner’s Apiary, Wapwallopen: $4,000 to purchase ten sets of hive woodenware and a wax dipper for use with the Bee Bootcamp hands-on hive management class for veterans in northeast Pennsylvania.

• Charles Lafferty, PA National Guard, Skyline Pastures, Mohrsville: $5,000 to install a livestock watering system for the grass-fed beef, forest-raised pork, and pastured broilers and turkeys on this family farm. Frost-free water hydrants hooked to troughs on float valves will comprise the system, reducing mud and increasing efficiency.

• Shane Lee, DBPL Farm, U.S. Air Force veteran, Westfield: $6,800 to purchase a woodlander sawmill to mill wood on the land and construct shelter for his livestock, and eventually, a poultry processing facility on the family farm where they raise meat goats, rabbits, pigs and cows.

• Joseph O’Hara, U.S. Navy veteran, HF Orchard LLC, Bloomsburg: $9,650 to construct a small farm store building with generator and cooler to display and sell cider and donuts along with other local products, as well as housing a new pick-your-own apple operation.

• Frederick Tiffany, U.S. Army veteran, Bullard Creek Cattle, Athens: $10,000 to purchase a new bud box style system which will channel cattle into an alley connected to a squeeze chute. This equipment will be the last piece required to complete his new facility and further develop a herd of registered angus cattle.

• Marcy Tudor, U.S. Air Force veteran, Weatherbury Farms, Avella: $9,800 to purchase kitchen equipment to be used with their wood-fired oven to provide value-added baked goods made from the grain they grow.

• Giana VanNice, U.S. Navy veteran, Blue Dog Farms, New Freedom: $10,000 to install a livestock watering system, which will capture groundwater and store it in underground tanks, then pump it to the highest point of the property. The project will allow Blue Dog Farms to rotationally graze effectively, drastically reduce the time required to haul water uphill and expand their herd.

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