Despite everything from daily challenges, changing weather conditions and even the pandemic, farming continues to be one of Pennsylvania’s top money makers, with more economic opportunities in the future.
At their family business, the Hess Farm in Centre County, the farmers’ children are the seventh generation there.
“We grow two things here,” said one of the farmers. “We grow kids and we grow food.”
Jeff and Cindy Harding have a beef and crop farm and are part of the state’s top industry.
“$132 billion-worth of economic activity every year,” explained Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russel Redding during his visit to Centre County Friday. “590,000 jobs. It’s 18 percent of Pennsylvania’s gross state product.”
Redding stopped by the Hess Farm Friday.
According to recent information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania has twice as many farmers over 65 than under 35. In the past decade, about 5 percent of the state’s farmland went out of production.
A business like many others, the AG industry is in a state of transition, but also like other businesses, there’s jobs available.
“The USDA just put out a report on employment outlook from 2020-2025. There’re an estimated 60,000 annual positions for people to enter the workforce. That’s a very positive outlook for us.”
The Hardings are receiving a financial boost through the Pennsylvania farm bill’s vitality grant program aimed at improving long term planning and health needs for farming families.
“So that we can lay the groundwork, so our kids, or grandkids, or maybe our great grand kids will be carrying on the legacy here.”