ROCK SPRINGS, PA – Pennsylvania’s rich agricultural heritage took the spotlight Tuesday when Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding recognized seven Pennsylvania families for their contributions to the commonwealth’s agriculture industry during Penn State’s Ag Progress Days in Rock Springs, Centre County.
Redding recognized the farms – which have been in operation for a combined more than 900 years – through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Century and Bicentennial Farm Program. The program helps promote the strength and durability of Pennsylvania’s farm families and recognizes families who have been farming the same land for 100 years and 200 years, respectively.
Since the Century Farm program’s inception in 1977 and the creation of the Bicentennial Farm program in 2004, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has recognized more than 2,100 Century and more than 170 Bicentennial Farms.
“During a show where so much of our focus is on the future of agriculture, this ceremony gives us the opportunity to step back and honor our past that has delivered our industry to the present,” said Redding. “These farms we’ve honored today embody the diversity of our agriculture industry past and present, and I commend these long-standing farm families for weathering the challenges of our industry and continuing to help feed our growing world.”
The following farms were honored during the awards ceremony:
The Veneskey Farm
The Robert and Barbara Veneskey Farm in Carrolltown, Cambria County, was purchased April 5, 1916. Today, 181 acres of the original tract and the 1915 farmhouse remain in use on the beef and crop operation. Cambria County is home to 29 Century farms.
The Smith Farm
The W. Eugene and Connie Smith Farm in Strattanville, Clarion County, was purchased August 9, 1905. Today, all 103 of the original acres and the 1885 house and 1889 barn are still in use as part of the fifth-generation family’s dairy and beef operation. A sawmill and gas wells supplement farm income. Clarion County is home to 28 Century farms and three Bicentennial farms.
The Faletto Farm
Purchased in 1913, the original 114-acres and farmhouse of the Faletto Farm of Irwin, Westmoreland County, are still in use today. In 1987, Paul and Peter J. Faletto, III, took over the family farm, including the 1913 family farmhouse, transitioning from dairy production to a focus on crop farming. Westmoreland County is home to 24 Century farms and 13 Bicentennial farms.
The Boyle Farm
The Larry and Alice Boyle Farm in East Brady, Armstrong County, was purchased November 1, 1815, at a price of $103. For that, Patrick Boyle received 151 acres, along with one cow, two steers, eight sheep, and all the grain in the barn and in the field. Today, 134.7 of those original acres remain, along with the 1905 farmhouse. Armstrong County is home to eight Bicentennial and 52 Century farms.
The Farone Farm
Purchased in April 1815, 120 of the original acres of Valley View Farm, owned by Paul and Carl Farone of New Galilee, Lawrence County, are used today as part of the seventh-generation family’s beef operation. Lawrence County is home to 14 Bicentennial farms and 34 Century farms.
The Niebauer Farm
Niebauer Family Farm of Coalport, Clearfield County, was purchased by current-owner Thomas Niebaurer’s great-grandfather Joseph in 1908. Originally, the 74 acres were used as a mule and pony farm for the Cambria Smofles Coal Company. Joseph, like other farmers in the region, split his time between farming and working in the area’s coal mines. Clearfield County is home to 37 Century farms and one Bicentennial farm.
The Shively Farm
Growing from a humble 15-acre tract purchased March 1, 1916, for $66 per acre, today the Brian and Barbara Shively Farm of Millmont, Union County is a 112-acre crop farm. Union County is home to 26 century farms and 11 bicentennial farms.
To be eligible for the Centennial and Bicentennial Farm Program, a farm must be owned by the same family for at least 100 consecutive years. A family member must live on the farm on a permanent basis, and the farm must include at least 10 acres of the original holding or gross more than $1,000 annually from the sale of farm products.
The Bicentennial Farm Program follows the same guidelines but requires 200 consecutive years of ownership. Farm history is filed in the archives of the Pennsylvania State Historical and Museum Commission. For more information, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov and search “Century Farm” or “Bicentennial Farm” or call 717-705-7796.