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Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced Tuesday available grants through the Farm Bill’s Ag and Youth program to fund agriculture education, training and workforce development programs, along with capital projects or equipment purchases.

According to a news release, the $500,000 total is available in two grant types – a direct, nonmatching reimbursement grant of up to $7,500 for an eligible project other than a capital project, or a matching reimbursement grant of up to $25,000 for an eligible capital project or equipment purchase. For the latter option, the grant may cover up to 50% of the project’s cost.

“We predict a shortfall in the agriculture workforce in the coming years as older farmers retire and new, more technological jobs are created,” Redding said in the release. “The remedy is education and awareness. By sparking early interest in agriculture through hands-on programs, we cultivate future industry leaders.”

Applications for the grants will be available Jan. 25 and accepted until 5 p.m. March 5. Trinity Area School District, which engages in Future Farmers of America programming, plans to apply, according to Assistant Superintendent Donald Snoke.

“We apply for every grant that we could be considered for,” he said.

Snoke said while the district isn’t yet sure what specific projects or programs they will seek to fund with the grant, it will likely by “technologically based.” He said agriculture education, like everything else, has looked different this school year, because of COVID-19 and virtual learning.

“It’s impacted everybody, unfortunately,” he said. “We want to continue to offer an excellent opportunity for our kids.”

Redding announced the funding during the state’s 2021 Virtual Farm Show, which included a panel discussion Tuesday night about educating youth about agriculture.

“Agriculture offers a variety of satisfying, family-sustaining jobs,” Redding said in the release. “These grants will expose youth to all that agriculture has to offer and will lead to a strong ag workforce for tomorrow.”

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