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Gov. Wolf Announces Funding to Support Agricultural Projects in Berks, Lebanon, Lancaster Counties – PA Department of Community & Economic Development

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the approval of seven agricultural projects being funded through the First Industries Fund (FIF). These projects, located in three counties, will help existing farms expand their operations, bring in additional revenue, and transition agribusinesses to the next generation of farmers.

“Pennsylvania’s economy is powered by its agriculture industry, so it is imperative that we continue to support projects that will lead to growth and investments in communities across the commonwealth,” said Gov. Wolf. “COVID-19 has drastically impacted so many of our state’s critical industries, and this funding will provide needed support to our agribusinesses, helping them grow, create jobs, and continue their critical services.”

The approved projects are as follows:

Berks County

Gerry and Darlene Noecker, through the Greater Berks Development Fund, were approved for a 15-year, $400,000 PIDA loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate for the construction of a single 20,000-square-foot duck breeding facility, including a 600,000-gallon liquid manure lagoon. The 6,600-head barn will be equipped with laying boxes that are located over a conveyor belt to move the eggs to the end of the barn for collection. This will be one of the first barns in the United States to utilize this system. The current industry standard is hand-picking eggs daily and this will significantly cut labor requirements. The use of this technology will also put the Noecker’s in a strong position to add an additional barn in the future. The total project cost is $1,147,000.

Jay and Lorelle Nolt, through the Greater Berks Development Fund, were approved for a 15-year, $400,000 PIDA loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate for the construction of a 20,000-square-foot duck breeding facility in Centre Township. The duck breeder house will hold 6,650 birds and will be a under a 15-year contract with Joe Jurgielewicz & Son, Ltd. The operation will be one of the first in the United States with a conveyor system under the layer boxes for the ducks. The total project cost is $1,200,000.

Gary and Victoria Wessner of KCLW, LLC, through the Greater Berks Development Fund, were approved for a 15-year, $325,000 PIDA loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate to acquire a 57.16-acre farm property located in Albany Township. The property contains 25 tillable acres, a two-story stone dwelling, a stone barn, and a 480-square-foot stone recreational building. The property’s 25 acres of open farmland is currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and Gary plans to crop farm the property as soon as the CREP expires. Gary and Victoria will also be selective timbering the property. The total project cost is $650,000.

Theodore and Christine Auman of Hex Provisions, LLC, through the Greater Berks Development Fund, were approved for a 15-year, $189,148 PIDA loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate for the construction of a small-scale meat processing facility and the acquisition of meat processing equipment. The system is made up of “lockers,” which are repurposed sea containers that are retrofitted for refrigeration and designed for expedited approval for USDA approved inspection. As part of the overall purchase of the locker system, the manufacturer, Dirigo Food Safety, assists the purchaser with all food safety regulatory approvals in addition to securing USDA granted inspection in an expedited fashion. The total project cost is $378,296.

Lancaster County

John and Miriam Hoover, through the EDC Finance Corporation, were approved for a 15-year, $400,000 loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate to purchase a 60-acre farm located in Brecknock Township that they are currently leasing. The farm contains a homestead, a renovated bank barn used for hog and sheep production, and two turkey barns, encompassing 88,200 square feet that can house up to 10,500 toms or hens. The Hoovers have a three-year contract with Lewistown Valley Enterprises d/b/a Koch’s Turkey Farm. Hogs produced on the farm are sold to Stevens Feed Mill while the sheep are sold through local markets. The farm also has a kennel barn, which is utilized for Miriam’s dog breeding business. The total project cost is $1,380,000.

Lebanon County

Robert and Andrea Brubaker, through Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation, were approved for a 15-year, $300,000 loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate to purchase a 36.54-acre farm in South Londonderry Township. The property includes a single-family dwelling, a bank barn with an attached garage/shed, and some other outbuildings. The property will be primarily utilized for crop production and manure application. The total project cost is $600,000.

Teresa Shuey, Kevin Shuey, Richard Hill, and Gale Hill of Little Hill Farm, LLC, through Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation, were approved for a 15-year, $247,500 loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate for the construction of a 31,500-square-foot broiler house. Little Hill Farm recently obtained a new seven-year contract from Bell and Evans for this house. They will continue to operate their two existing broiler houses which are also under contract with Bell and Evans. The total project cost is $495,000.

More information about the Commonwealth Financing Authority, or the Department of Community and Economic Development, can be found on the DCED website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook