Pa. snags $7.85M from feds to help farmers fight climate change | Tuesday Morning Coffee

‘Climate change is presenting serious challenges to the farmers who feed us and feed our economy,’ Ag. Secretary Russell Redding said

By: - August 23, 2022 7:12 am

A farmer plants corn into a cover crop of barley. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service/The Missouri Independent).

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has snagged a $7.85 million grant from the federal government that will help farmers across the commonwealth fight climate change.

The grant program will pay for “climate-smart” practices on farms that have been protected from development, officials said on Monday. There’s also money available for farmers who are interested in transitioning to organic farming.

The state’s $12.8 million investment in preserving farms will help leverage the federal money for farms “that implement and measure the impact of practices that address climate change,” according to the Agriculture Department.

“Climate change is presenting serious challenges to the farmers who feed us and feed our economy,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in the agency’s statement.

The state has “invested heavily in protecting farmland from development and making farming practices more sustainable and farms more resilient,” Redding continued. “We have been creative in multiplying those investments to have an even greater impact on our future food supply and economy.”

The fine print, from the Agriculture Department:

  • Project partners will use COMET-Farm to model the greenhouse gas reduction tied to project activities.
  • “The Rodale Institute will help the department measure the impact of these practices.  
  • “The Clearwater Conservancy and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will provide additional support focused on forestland conservation.
  • “The grant was one of 41 regional conservation projects totaling $197 million to match local funds. Farmland preservation funds serve as the matching contribution. Details of the application process for farmers are in development,” according to the state.

“These dollars will be a significant tool for our efforts to improve soil health on preserved farms and reduce the impact of climate change,” Bureau of Farmland Preservation Director Douglas Wolfgang said in a statement.

“Regenerative farming practices capture and store carbon from the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of climate change,” Wolfgang continued. “Our hope is that the project will provide additional conservation opportunities for preserved farm owners and multiply the good we are doing for Pennsylvania’s future.”

A farm in Ephrata, Lancaster County. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Pennsylvania won its first grant  — some $6.3 million — through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, as it’s formally known, in 2018. The money paid for projects in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, according to the Agriculture Department.

The state’s second grant, awarded in 2019-20, paid for farmland preservation efforts and natural resource protection in the state’s Kittatinny Ridge region, which runs through eastern and central Pennsylvania, to the Maryland state line.

Officials said the federal money builds on spending in the 2022-23 state budget that invests “$220 million total in the new Clean Streams Fund, including $154 million to fund the new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program supporting farmers’ efforts to reduce water pollution and improve soil quality, and $22 million to increase funding for the existing Nutrient Management Fund, which supports technical assistance to farms to reduce run-off.”

A spiking thermometer against a bright sky and hot sun
(Getty Images/The Arizona Mirror).

Our Stuff.
Environmental activists and advocates say that part of a proposed constitutional amendment package could roll back environmental protection regulations, pollution reduction efforts, and initiatives aimed at combating climate change in Pennsylvania. Cassie Miller has the story.

Decisions about reproductive health — how, when, and why someone receives an abortion — could come down to the results of the November general election in Pennsylvania, prompting advocates to demand clarity from the Republican nominee for governor. Marley Parish and Peter Hall have the story.

If you were looking for the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives to take a run at election reform when it reconvenes next month, you might want to adjust your expectations. Story and video from me.

Philadelphia has received $25 million to fix some of the city’s most dangerous streets in underserved areas by upgrading traffic signals, adding new paving, signage, speed bumps and by fixing potholes, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: These are the legislative steps that Congress and state lawmakers can take next to help long-term care in Pennsylvania, Garry Pezzano, of the industry group, LeadingAge PA, writes. And the U.S. can avoid a slide into authoritarianism — but only if we work together, opinion regular Jill Sunday Bartoli, of Carlisle, writes.  

(Getty Images)

Women are outpacing men in voter registration since the fall of Roe v. Wade, the Inquirer reports.

State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, who is Jewish, has been the target of anti-Semitic threats on the rightwing social media site Gab, the Post-Gazette reports.

WESA-FM’s Chris Potter explains what Christian nationalism is — and why it’s an issue in the 2022 campaign for governor.

Senate State Government Committee Chairperson Dave Argall, R-Schuylkill, has asked Lt. Gov. John Fetterman to share more information about the health scare that benched him just before the May primary, PennLive reports.

Pennsylvania had more deer-related wrecks last year. The Centre Daily Times runs the data (via the Morning Call).

Luzerne County Council will vote today on whether to buy a $490,500 ballot-sorting system for the county election bureau, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

With a new school year about to start, Philly school officials are addressing safety concerns in the state’s largest school district, WHYY-FM reports.

Roll Call runs down the 14 … yes, 14 … key races to watch in today’s New York primary.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @doors_of_phila

What Goes On
10 a.m., Erie: House Democratic Policy Committee. Hearing on preventing youth violence

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
5:30 p.m., Pittsburgh: Reception for GOP state Senate candidate Greg Rothman. Admission runs $500 to $5,000.

Gov. Tom Wolf does his usual 8:07 a.m. interview on KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh this morning.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Geoff Morrow, in House Democrats’ communications, who celebrates today. Congratulations, sir. Enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s one that, for obvious reasons, has me missing Chicago this morning. From Rogue Wave, it’s ‘Lake Michigan.’ Anyone know where to score a good Italian beef sandwich in Harrisburg?

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link
Manchester United remembered how to play football on Monday, beating Liverpool 2-1, with Red Devils’ gaffer Erik ten Hag praising his team’s ‘fighting spirit,’ the Guardian reports. United currently sit a mind-boggling 14th in the Premier League.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.