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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 24-190



Standards and Requirements for the Agricultural Business Development Center Farm Vitality Planning Grant Program

[54 Pa.B. 740]
[Saturday, February 17, 2024]

 The Department of Agriculture (Department) hereby provides notice of the standards and requirements for the Farm Vitality Planning Grant Program (Program).

 The Program is established under authority of the Agricultural Business Development Center Act (3 Pa.C.S. §§ 4801—4810) (act). The act allows the Department to award matching grants to farmers, prospective farmers and others in furtherance of the objectives set forth in the act. These objectives relate to enhancing the long-term vitality of farms in this Commonwealth through sound business planning, efficient transitions of farm ownership, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production and building a team of financial and technical expertise as a resource for farmers in this Commonwealth.

 This notice establishes the standards and requirements for the Program. It establishes the process by which grant applications will be solicited and reviewed, and by which grants will be awarded, drawing on up to $500,000 in additional funding made available by the Department in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023-2024.

 For this year of the Program, the Department is soliciting applications that fulfill the general objectives of the act, as described as follows. The Department may revise these standards and requirements in subsequent years, as the Department and its Agricultural Business Development Center gain experience in administering the Program.

 This document has been developed in consultation with the Agricultural Business Development Center Advisory Committee.

 1. Program objective. The Program's objective is to provide grants to eligible farmers, prospective farmers and others to further the objectives of the act. These include providing grants to help grant recipients:

 a. Create or obtain business plans and management strategies to enhance the long-term economic viability of a farm.

 b. Create or obtain plans for the transition of ownership and operation of a farm to new owners and operators.

 c. Create or obtain plans for transfer of ownership and operation of a farm within the farmer's family.

 d. Create or obtain business planning to diversify an existing agricultural operation to new or different forms of agricultural production, including on-farm value-added processing and agritourism.

 e. Maintain the long-term economic viability and protect the investment of public funds in preserving farms that are subject to perpetual agricultural conservation easements acquired under the Agricultural Area Security Law (3 P.S. §§ 901—916), for agricultural production.

 f. Create or obtain business planning for a farm expansion or to seek financing for farm growth.

 2. Eligibility. Farmers, prospective farmers and others may apply to the Department for a grant under the Program.

 3. Available funding. The Department shall make up to $500,000 available for Program grants in FY 2023-2024.

 4. Grant caps, limits and restrictions.

 a. Funds-available basis. Grants shall be awarded on a funds-available basis.

 b. Eligible projects. Grants shall only be awarded with respect to projects that achieve one or more of the Program objectives presented in paragraph No. 1.

 c. Maximum grant amount: An individual grant shall not exceed $7,500.

 d. Matching grants. Grant amounts shall be limited to 75% of project costs.

 e. Reimbursement grants. Grants shall be reimbursement grants. The amount of reimbursement is based on actual eligible costs submitted by an approved applicant for an approved project during the fiscal year in which grants are offered. Refer to https://www.agriculture. for additional resources with respect to allowable and unallowable costs and required forms.

 f. No in-kind support. In-kind support shall not be counted toward an applicant's matching contribution.

 g. Other funding. Grant money may not be used to reimburse any portion of the project costs which are being paid or reimbursed under another Federal or State grant program.

 5. Application process.

 a. Online applications only. An applicant for a grant under the Program shall be submitted through the Commonwealth's Single Application for Assistance online application system at

 b. Application window. Applications must be submitted through the Single Application for Assistance online application system. The Department will accept applications received on or after July 1, 2023, and until funds are exhausted. Applications received after funds are exhausted will not be considered or reviewed unless additional funding is made available by the Department.

 c. Single project. An application shall only seek grant funds for a single project. Separate projects require separate applications.

 d. Rolling review. The Department will review complete grant applications in the order they are received and will award grants on a continuous basis until available funds are exhausted.

 6. Application requirements. An application for a grant under the Program shall contain the following information:

 a. The applicant's name, business address and contact information.

 b. A detailed description of the project for which the grant is sought.

 c. Specification of the exact purpose (or purposes) of the act, as previously presented in paragraph No. 1, that will be achieved by the project.

 d. The details of the project for which reimbursement grant money is sought, including the following:

 i. A project budget.

 ii. A statement of the maximum amount of grant money sought for the project.

 iii. A project implementation schedule, as appropriate for the project or purchase with respect to which the grant is sought.

 iv. A brief narrative identifying each entity that will assist with and participate in the project.

 e. An attestation signed by the applicant, verifying the accuracy of the information presented on the application.

 7. Disposition and review of grant applications.

 a. The Department will review each application, and supporting documentation submitted therewith, for completeness and accuracy, and determine eligibility.

 b. If an application is found to be incomplete or inaccurate, the Department may request additional documentation and may discontinue further processing of the application until the requested information is received.

 c. The Department will provide quarterly summaries of grant activity to the Agricultural Business Development Center Advisory Committee.

 8. Notice of disposition of application. The Department will provide the applicant written notice of the disposition (approval or disapproval) of the application.

 9. Agreement required. After the Secretary approves a grant application, and as a precondition to the Department's release of grant moneys to a successful applicant, the Department and the applicant shall execute a written or electronic grant agreement which establishes the terms and conditions subject to which the grant is made. The grant agreement will not be effective, and work should not begin, until all required signatures have been applied to the grant agreement. The grant agreement will contain and conform to the requirements of this notice and will also contain special terms and conditions as required by the Secretary. Among the terms of the grant agreement will be a requirement that the grant recipient provide the Department full and complete access to all records relating to the performance of the project and submit the information as the Department may require. Applicants who wish to view the full terms and conditions of the grant agreement in advance of submitting an application may contact the Department at the phone number or e-mail address set forth in section 11. Applicants who are unable to agree to the terms and conditions should not apply.

 10. Distribution of grant money. As Program grants are reimbursement grants, the Department will not issue grant money until the successful applicant submits the following to the Department:

 a. A verified statement that the eligible project has been completed or implemented.

 b. A verified statement of the project completion date, with the project completion date being no more than 2 years from the effective date of the Grant Agreement.

 c. Bills and invoices demonstrating that expenses were incurred for which reimbursement grant funds are sought.

 d. Other information as the Department might reasonably require.

 11. Additional information: Additional information may be obtained from the Department by contacting Neil Imes, (717) 787-5539,


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 24-190. Filed for public inspection February 16, 2024, 9:00 a.m.]

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