Above: The Historic Round Barn and Farm Market, Biglerville PA

This column was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, September 10, 2015

By Robin Fitzpatrick

As fall approaches, our gorgeous Adams County vistas are filled with harvesting scenes, thanks to our agricultural bounty. Those scenes might not typically come to mind when one thinks of “economic development,” however agriculture plays an integral role in Adams County’s economy.

On October 8, ACEDC will celebrate its 26-year history with a special emphasis on agriculture, at the organization’s Annual Meeting. And what better place to celebrate, than at one of the county’s agricultural gems—Beech Springs Farm, Orrtanna. Although we will continue the tradition of holding our annual business meeting as part of the event, we are looking forward to celebrating in a more relaxed atmosphere, within the beauty of hosts Jayne and Bill Shord’s farm. The public is invited to attend; we kindly ask for RSVPs by October 1.

The Shords have received many accolades for restoring their classic Pennsylvania barn, site of numerous dinners, galas, weddings and events. 2015 has even been designated “the year of the Pennsylvania barn” by the state legislature, whose decree reads in part:

“Barns are the heart and soul of our Pennsylvania farms and the communities of which they are a part and define the agricultural character of rural landscapes across this Commonwealth… Barns are visual reminders that hard work, productivity and ingenuity are integral to our identity as Pennsylvanians.”

ACEDC began administering loans to the agricultural and tourism industries during the Rendell administration, 2003-2011. Our relationships with the local agriculture industry simply blossomed, and continue to do so.

Since 1996, ACEDC has facilitated 41 loans to farmers in Adams County! We are proud to say we’ve worked with farmers throughout the entire county, facilitating projects that include cattle, orchards, cold storage, chickens, crop production, eggs, turkeys and more!  And wine, don’t get me started.  We do wine!  I mean wineries.

For example, we secured a $200,000 loan from the First Industries program to help Apple Valley Creamery, LLC build a new barn to house cattle and to renovate an existing barn into a creamery and retail store. Mason Dixon Farms, Inc. constructed the farm’s second robotic milking barn financed by a $200,000 loan also from the First Industries program. One of the largest ag-related loans we secured was $1.8 million in financing Bream and Bear Operating Company, LLC’s cold storage facility which was designed to house more than 500,000 bushels of fresh fruit along with offices, loading docks and packing areas.

Our small business loans have particular appeal to farmers due to the fixed rates and low interest terms. Farming is a very risky business because it depends upon the whim of the weather from year to year; farmers try to hold onto as much cash as possible to prepare for fluctuations in their income.

It is our joy to celebrate the rich history and rich future of Adams County agriculture at this October’s Annual Meeting. It is also with great pride that we celebrate economic benchmarks achieved over the past eight years: more than $26.5 million in total public investment via low-interest loans and grants from DCED; more than $74 million in total private investment via local commercial financing; 587 jobs created and 1,520 jobs retained in Adams County.

Please join us on October 8 by contacting us with your RSVP by October 1 at (717) 334-0042 extension 3 or [email protected].