Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry has a new resource available to help farmers. The PA Agriculture Mentor Program includes five mentors with extensive agricultural backgrounds to assist beginning farmers, agribusiness entrepreneurs and farmers in troubleshooting new strategies and ideas for their farm businesses.
Spearheaded by a group of Pennsylvania agricultural organizations with an interest in the future of agriculture, the program leverages SCORE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Development Center. The mentoring is free and confidential.
Mentors in the PA Agriculture Mentor Program:
John Berry, Emmaus, PA
John is a former Penn State Extension educator who spent more than 20 years helping farmers on a variety of marketing and financial management topics. Known nationally for his retail farm marketing expertise, he is an internationally certified Farm Business Transition Coordinator. Prior to joining Extension, John had a 20-year dairy farming career. In retirement, John works seasonally for a pick-your-own orchard, food and agritourism business in his local community and enjoys volunteering on USAID foreign assignments.
Richard Crouse, Biglerville, PA
Rick was raised on a tree fruit-growing operation and spent summers in college working as an orchard specialist at the Penn State Fruit Research Laboratory in Biglerville. Rick dedicated 30 years with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) as a loan officer, manager and specialist throughout Pennsylvania. The last seven years of his career, he served as a business development specialist with AgChoice Farm Credit in Adams County.
Jim Hoge, Waterford, PA
Jim retired from AgChoice Farm Credit, after 34 years as a loan officer and regional manager in western Pennsylvania. Prior to his AgChoice career, Jim and his brother started a small dairy farm in Washington County. Jim and his wife currently operate a small farm, growing blueberries for pick-your-own and local farm markets.
Winifred McGee, Elizabethtown, PA
Winifred has a passion for helping farm and food businesses get started and currently works part-time for University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC). She is formerly with Penn State Extension and spent more than 30 years teaching topics such as business planning, financial analysis and business feasibility.
Alan Zepp, New Oxford, PA
Alan has a lifelong background in the dairy industry. He operated his own dairy farm for more than 30 years, and then helped other Pennsylvania dairy farmers as risk management coordinator at the Center for Dairy Excellence. Alan now operates a crop farm and raises heifers for a neighboring farm.