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Chester County recognzied for growing local agriculture business, opportunity

If you should find yourself in a conversation about development with someone involved in the urban real estate industry, it's fairly safe to assume that the topic of agriculture won't carry much weight. But out in the rural expanse of Chester County, where farming is still an active way of life, the situation is actually quite complicated. "You often hear that buying a farm is really difficult," says Sue Milshaw, of the Chester County Economic Development Council. "And it is," she adds. "But it is possible."

Milshaw should certainly know, especially since it was her work, and that of her colleagues, that recently led to the Council being presented with an award from the state's Department of Agriculture. The award recognized the council's dedication to the agriculture industry, and especially its ability to secure loans for farmers interested in developing.

The Chester County Cheese Artisans, for instance, is a group that recently developed property with the help of the Council; they renovated a barn that's now used for cheese processing and aging, as well as goat-milking.

The Council also works to help finance people buying their first farm. And as Milshaw explains, some of the economic development programs that are now open to the farming industry--thanks to the CCEDC's work--are now being used by the area's Amish community as well.

"I think there was a mindset for a long time that agriculture was a business that could take care of itself," says Milshaw, when asked why so many financing programs have long been closed to would-be farmers. "And that's in spite of the fact that in a county like Chester or Lancaster or Berks, agriculture is a significant part of the economic picture there."

Source: Sue Milshaw, Chester County Economic Development Council
Writer: Dan Eldridge

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