Shapiro Administration recognizes farm families’ staying power, honoring new bicentennial farm in Berks County

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding honored the Donald and Donna Kerchner family of Lenhartsville, Berks County, and the Richard Thomas family of Troy, Bradford County Thursday. Both families’ farms were named Bicentennial Farms for having been in the same family for 200 years. Redding also honored nine families who achieved Century Farm status for keeping their farms in the same family for 100 years.

At the ceremony during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days, families from Armstrong, Berks, Bradford, Butler, Centre, Columbia, Jefferson, Perry, Somerset counties, and two York county families were honored with the designations and recognized for their commitment to feeding Pennsylvania and sustaining our economy.

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“These families have devoted their lives and legacies to feeding their neighbors here and around the world,” said Secretary Redding. “They are stewards not just of their families’ legacies, but of our land, water and soil resources. We are here not just because these farms have stood the test of time, but because of the decisions made by generations of families to persevere and thrive in agriculture no matter what comes their way. The Shapiro Administration is committed to supporting these families and their communities, helping them to continue thriving for decades to come.”

The commonsense, bi-partisan budget Governor Shapiro signed continues to support Pennsylvania’s farm families and rural communities, investing in their sustainability and ability to compete and grow, through $13.8 million to fund a fifth year of the PA Farm Bill.

The 2023-24 budget includes funding, incentives and initiatives to support farmers in planning for growth and innovation; transitioning their farms to the next generation; supporting farm management to conserve and improve soil and water resources they rely on; and investments in the infrastructure they need to get their products to market and compete.

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Since the Century Farm program’s inception in 1977 and 2004 when the Bicentennial Farm program began, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has recognized more than 2,300 farms. Farms receive a sign to post on their property noting the achievement.

A family member must live on the farm on a permanent basis. The farm must consist of at least 10 acres of the original parcel or gross more than $1,000 annually from the sale of farm products.

In Berks County, the Kerchner Family Farm, was honored as a Bicentennial Farm, established 1790. Donald’s great, great grandfather, George Adam Zettlemoyer, purchased the farm in 1790. Today, the family raises beef cattle on more than 97 acres of the original purchase.

Berks County has 33 Century and 12 Bicentennial Farms.

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