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January/February 2007

Inside This Issue:


Center Announces 2007 Grant Awards
Researchers from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities and Pennsylvania State University will be receiving more than $500,000 in grant funding as part of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s 2007 Grants Program.

In November 2006, the Center’s Board of Directors awarded grant monies to five faculty from the state system universities and six faculty from Penn State’s main and commonwealth campuses to conduct research on topics associated with education, health care, water quality and more.

Senator John Gordner, chairman of the Center’s Board of Directors, says that this year’s grant projects, like past projects, will continue to reflect the needs and issues of our times.

“During the grants process, our board, independent reviewers and Center staff are ever mindful of the issues that need more focused attention,” Gordner said. “As we work through the process, we look to sponsor those projects that will build on the Center’s base of information and rural Pennsylvania’s need for answers to important issues.”

Following is a more detailed list of the 2007 grant projects.

2007 research projects
Measuring and Analyzing Juvenile Recidivism in Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. David E. Kalist of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will document basic statistics of juvenile recidivism in Pennsylvania to investigate juvenile recidivism in rural and urban Pennsylvania using modern statistical techniques, which is important since many juvenile offenders continue to commit crimes as adults.  The results of the research should lead to suggestions for policy makers on cost-effective ways to reduce juvenile recidivism.

Examination of Mobile Homes in Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. Brent Yarnal of Pennsylvania State University will assess mobile homes and mobile home residents of rural Pennsylvania. The research will provide a baseline inventory of mobile homes; include an analysis of land and mobile home ownership, demographics and other issues; and identify policy considerations for state government.

Economic and Transportation Impact of Warehousing on Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. Paul Marr of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will examine economic and transportation impacts of warehousing on rural areas using a multi-scaled approach. The researcher will analyze county-level data to determine the current state of the industry. Those counties most impacted by warehousing will then be analyzed in detail to determine warehousing’s affect on rural locations.

Rural Exports:  A Baseline Study
Dr. Constantinos A. Christofides of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania will conduct research to develop baseline data on rural exports. The research will involve an inventory of rural businesses that export to develop a database of export types, products, annual sales, employment and location; an inventory of state and federal programs that support and assist businesses in exporting; an analysis of rural businesses that participate in export programs; and a compilation of policy considerations.

Study of the Sustainability of Rural Community Health Service Providers
Dr. Linda J. Kanzleiter of Pennsylvania State University - College of Medicine will survey rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers to provide new information on how they serve poor rural communities in Pennsylvania. The researcher will also assess model programs in other states.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use Among Youth in Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. Keith Aronson of Pennsylvania State University will use data from three waves of the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) to develop a comprehensive analysis of alcohol, tobacco and drug use among rural Pennsylvania youth. The research will offer the commonwealth valuable data on determining prevention, intervention and control policies.

Comparison of Health Related Factors Between Rural and Urban Pennsylvania Residents Using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Data
Dr. Kimberly Forrest of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania will analyze the BRFSS data to compare health conditions, disease risk factors and use of preventive services between rural and urban Pennsylvania residents to identify changes and emerging trends over the last 10 years. Based on the analysis, the researcher will determine the implications and offer considerations for health-related policies in rural areas.

Growing the Links Between Farm and School: Best Practices for Farm-to-School Programs
Dr. Clare Hinrichs of Pennsylvania State University will conduct a quantitative survey of public school food service directors and eight to 10 mini case studies of selected Pennsylvania schools with farm-to-school programming to identify best practices, current opportunities, constraints and policy needs. The research results will be used to develop a farm-to-school “how-to” guidebook targeted to Pennsylvania school administrators and local farmers/food producers.

Geographic Targeting of Public Health Resources Using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey
Myron Schwartz of Pennsylvania State University – College of Medicine will analyze a multi-year BRFSS file, which includes a vehicle to identify the municipality of the respondent, to assess the effects of local physician supply on use and the effects of rurality on health behaviors. 

The Effect of Management Practices on Rural Drinking Water Quality
Dr. William E. Sharpe of Pennsylvania State University will continue the sampling of an additional 250 private drinking wells to improve the spatial and temporal distribution and reliability of results from a 2006 project. The research will help determine water quality, the causes of contamination and the role of voluntary management versus regulations, and may offer policy considerations for private well legislation.

Survey and Analysis of Alternative Education Practices II
Dr. Nathaniel Hosley of Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania will survey more than 650 alternative education programs funded in Pennsylvania. The data will provide extensive information regarding rural and urban practices in alternative education and assist in determining the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act upon the overall operation of these programs.

Topics for 2008
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s board is now identifying topics for the 2008 Grant Program. The grant topics will address relevant issues impacting Pennsylvania’s 3.4 million rural residents. After the topics have been identified, the Center will issue its Request for Proposals (RFP) in February.

While the Center’s grant program is only open to faculty at the state system universities and Penn State, the Center encourages cooperation and collaboration between these faculty and other public or private organizations.

For more information about the 2008 RFP or to receive a copy, call the Center at (717) 787-9555 or visit our website at


Baseline Inventory of Historic Barns Completed
Evidence of Pennsylvania’s rich agricultural heritage is alive and well if you consider the number of historic barns that seem to dot the landscape in practically every county of the state. According to a recent survey conducted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, every region of the state appears to have a good number of historic barns, most of which are still in agricultural use.

Why conduct an inventory
In October 2005, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed resolutions recognizing the importance of the state’s historic barns (HR 463 and SR 190). The resolutions urged the state Department of Agriculture (PDA) and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) to inventory and catalogue historic barns in Pennsylvania.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania assisted PDA and PHMC with the barn inventory by developing and distributing a survey and tallying the survey results. 

Owners of historic barns were asked to participate in the survey. Barns built before 1960 were identified as “historic,” since the 2002 Federal Farm Bill previously established a similar criterion of about 50 years of age.

The Center mailed about 1,600 surveys to barn owners in July 2006. By September 2006, 962 surveys were returned for a response rate of 60 percent. While this inventory had its limitations, it was the first statewide attempt to gather information on the number and type of historic barns in the state.

The survey says. . .
According to the survey results, 53 percent of barns were built before 1880. Generally speaking, barns in eastern Pennsylvania were older than those in central and western Pennsylvania. Forty-six percent of the barns in eastern Pennsylvania were built before the Civil War began (1861). 

Year Barn Was Built

Seventy percent of the barns had special features, such as lightning rods (65 percent), ventilators (22 percent) and weather vanes (21 percent). 

Fifty-eight percent of the barns were Pennsylvania German bank barns. These barns are characterized as having a second floor forebay projecting six or more feet over the front of the stable or foundation level. The foundation is built into a sloping bank, which typically rises to the rear, and the barn is normally entered through doors that are accessible by the ramp created from the bank at the rear. Other popular barn styles were basement barns (21 percent), English barns (5 percent) and three gable barns (5 percent).

Seventy-three percent of respondents said the overall condition of their barn was “good” or “excellent.” Twenty-three percent rated their barn as “fair,” and less than 5 percent said their barn was in “poor” or “very poor” condition.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said their barn is currently used for agricultural production. The top three production uses were hay storage (82 percent), farm equipment storage (63 percent) and housing for beef cattle (28 percent). (The total does not add up to 100 percent because of multiple responses.) Among the 46 percent of respondents who were not using their barn for agricultural production, 81 percent were using the barn for storage.

Currently in Pennsylvania, there are no state government programs specifically designed for barn preservation. When asked how supportive they would be of various types of barn preservation programs, respondents were overwhelmingly supportive of programs that would offer financial support for barn preservation and provide technical assistance on barn repair. (See graph below.)

Percent of Respondents Supporting Potential Barn Preservation Programs

More on the inventory available
For the complete copy of survey results, An Inventory of Pennsylvania Historic Barns, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or visit


Chairman’s Message
To all of our readers, I extend a Happy New Year from the board and staff of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. We hope you enjoyed the holiday season and are ready to engage in a new year of challenges, opportunities and enlightenment.

At the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, the year 2007 is especially significant since we are entering our 20th year of service to the Pennsylvania General Assembly and to rural Pennsylvania.

Created with the passing of the Rural Revitalization Act of 1987, the Center focuses its research and database development on rural trends and conditions for the promotion and sustainability of Pennsylvania’s rural and small communities. Rural Pennsylvania, covering three-quarters of Pennsylvania’s landscape, is the home and place of business for 3.4 million rural residents. With its centuries old history, heritage, and culture, rural Pennsylvania also plays host annually to countless thousands of others as a vacation destination. It is also seen as an attractive place to live for many of our retiring baby boomer generation.

In its 20-year history, the Center’s research work has contributed to the development, refinement and support of state policies and programs that more effectively meet the needs of our rural residents. Re-designation of the state’s health professional shortage and medically underserved areas, initial start-up of the Area Health Education Centers network, expansion of the Main Street Program, telecommunications advancement for rural schools, documentation of the economic impact of hunting, fishing, and trapping, promotion of farmers’ markets and the development of heritage tourism are just a few examples of the breadth and depth of the Center’s work since 1987.

Our work is done in collaboration with many groups and organizations. Higher education, executive branch agencies, statewide associations, regional groups, and numerous citizens have supported and contributed to the work and accomplishments of the Center. As we look back and take a moment to acknowledge the impact of our research, we do so with deep appreciation to the Pennsylvania General Assembly for its commitment to us and rural Pennsylvania.

Over the coming years, the Center will continue growing this knowledge base and sharing it with those who can use it to positively affect the quality of life in rural Pennsylvania.

During 2007, the Center will mark its 20 years of service by convening meetings among our researchers, legislators, government officials and others to focus on timely issues of state public policy. We will also contribute to the Pennsylvania voice in the deliberations for the passage of the U.S. Farm Bill in 2007. And we will continue our research and database development work. Recently approved research projects address issues including: community health service providers, the warehousing industry, behavioral health risk factors, transfer of wealth, farm-to-school programs, and juvenile recidivism.

We look forward to continuing our work with longstanding partners, to building new relationships, and to ringing in more new years of challenges, opportunities and enlightenment.

Senator John Gordner


Farmers Answer Question: Are You Prepared to Transition Your Farm?
Are Pennsylvania farmers prepared to transfer their farms to the next generation? According to a recent survey of farmers enrolled in the state’s conservation easement program, 62 percent do not have a complete farm transition plan. For the survey, a complete farm transition plan would include both a written estate plan and an identified successor.

The survey was conducted in the summer of 2006 by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Center for Farm Transitions and the Center for Rural Pennsylvania to learn more about farmers’ plans to transfer their farms to the next generation. The survey only included those farmers in the state’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program. The program enables state, county and local governments to purchase conservation easements, or “development rights,” from owners of quality farmland to protect farmland from development.

The survey was sent to the nearly 2,800 farmers participating in the program; 672 usable surveys were returned for a response rate of 24 percent. 

Survey results
While 66 percent of respondents have a written estate plan, 34 percent do not. Fifty-two percent of respondents have identified a potential successor who will eventually take over the management of the farm and 48 percent have not. Overall, 62 percent do not have both components of a transition plan.

The survey also found that younger farmers were less likely than older farmers to have a farm transition plan. 

Ninety percent of respondents have children; on average, about three. However, farmers with no estate plans and no successors were less likely to have children. 

Fifty-eight percent of respondents plan to retire or semi-retire and 42 percent do not plan to retire. Among those planning to retire or semi-retire, 54 percent plan to do so when they are between 65 and 75 years old. The average planned retirement age is 68. When the respondents retire or semi-retire, 39 percent expect to live on the proceeds of the farm sale and 30 percent are counting on the retirement package of their off-farm employer.

Among farmers who are planning to retire or semi-retire, 23 percent plan to move off the farm, 43 percent plan to stay on the farm, and 34 percent are not sure.

Among those farmers who are planning to move off the farm, 74 percent plan to live off of the proceeds from the farm sale. These respondents gave mixed responses on what they plan to do with the farm after they retire or semi-retire: 49 percent plan to transfer the farm to a family member at a discount price or at market value, 25 percent plan to sell off either some or all of the farm assets and farmland, 17 percent are undecided, and 9 percent have other plans.

Among those owners with estate plans, most have a will (91 percent), a living will (45 percent) and power of attorney (44 percent). Twenty-five percent of respondents are using trusts.  (The percentages do not add up to 100 percent due to multiple types of estate plans.)

Survey conclusions
According to the survey, the majority of respondents are not fully prepared to transition their farms. The lack of a complete farm transition plan means that farmers may not be able to oversee the transfer of their farm in the event of an unexpected death or a disabling accident or illness. It also means there could be a gap between the time when the current owner leaves the farm and the new owner begins production.

The survey also revealed that older farmers are more prepared than younger farmers for farm transition. The survey results indicate that the older the farmer, the more prepared he or she is to transition the farm to the next generation. This may suggest that all farmers will eventually develop a transition plan. However, an untimely death or disabling accident or illness may prevent these plans from being developed. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that developing farm transition plans early in life will enable a farmer to identify the best successor and develop a strategy for a gradual farm transfer.

Finally, farm transition is strongly focused on individuals and families. The survey results showed little statistical differences between the respondents’ level of transition planning and the type of agriculture production in which they engage, the size of their farm, and their farm income. Issues that were significantly correlated with the level of farm transition planning were the age of the farmer and whether or not the farmer had children. In addition, the importance of family was evident in responses to questions about retirement and successors. From a farm transition perspective, the importance of family means that outreach efforts should focus on families and the issues they face in farm transition.

More Info Available
For a copy of the complete survey results, contact the Center for Farm Transitions at (717) 787-2376 or email


Census Data Reveal Small Increase in Rural Pennsylvania Minority Population
The Census Bureau’s 2005 American Community Survey data provide the first opportunity to examine race and ethnicity in rural and urban Pennsylvania since the 2000 Decennial Census.

This is the first year the sample size was large enough to include data for all the commonwealth’s urban counties, which can be subtracted from the state total to reveal information on rural counties. One limitation is that the data do not yet include people living in group quarters, so people living in such places as college campuses, correctional institutions, and nursing homes are excluded from the data.

The 2005 data show that, in rural Pennsylvania households, about 5 percent of the population was minorities, while the other 95 percent was white non-Hispanic/Latino. Of the 5 percent that were rural minorities, 41 percent were black or African American, 27 percent were of other races, 17 percent were white Hispanic and 15 percent were of two or more races.

The population of urban Pennsylvania households, on the other hand, was 22 percent minority in 2005. Of the 22 percent, 60 percent were black or African American, 24 percent were of other races, 10 percent were white Hispanic and 5 percent were of two or more races. 

Since Census 2000, there has been a small increase in the minority population among rural households. In 2000, 4 percent of those living in rural households were minorities, 1 percentage point lower than in 2005. Over the same period, the change in the percentage of minorities in urban counties was more significant, growing by 2 percentage points from 20 percent in 2000.

Race and Ethnicity of Rural Pennsylvania Households, 2005

Population Details for U.S. and Pennsylvania Households, 2005

Note: Figures do not include persons in group quarters, such as prisons, nursing homes and dormitories


Behind the Numbers: Race, Ethnicity and Ancestry
What is the difference between race, ethnicity, and ancestry?
Race encompasses inherited, characteristic traits. Ethnicity refers to cultural origin. Ancestry is simply a line of descent.

How are data collected?
Usually self-reported in a survey.

Where can I get data on race, ethnicity and ancestry?
The U.S. Census Bureau, various Pennsylvania Departments for particular programs, and others.

When do I use the data:
As one measure of community diversity.

Note: For a more detailed fact sheet on race, ethnicity and ancestry, visit, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email


Just the Facts: The Farm Show’s Wicked Winter Weather?
One of the most enduring pieces of state folklore is the harsh winter weather that always comes during the Pennsylvania Farm Show.  However, data from the Pennsylvania State Climate Office suggest that the Farm Show’s wicked weather hasn’t been living up to its reputation in more recent years.

Since 1916, the Pennsylvania Farm Show has been held regularly in early January in Harrisburg. The week-long event highlights agriculture in the commonwealth and in recent years has attracted more than 400,000 visitors and exhibitors. 

Over the last 50 years, the average temperature during the first 10 days in January, when the Farm Show is typically held, has slowly risen. For example, between 1956 and 1959, the average temperature in Harrisburg during the first 10 days in January was a chilly 28 degrees. Fifty years later, between 2003 and 2006, the average temperature has hovered at 36 degrees, or eight degrees higher.

Over the last 50 years, the three coldest years of the Farm Show were 1968, 1970 and 1981, when the thermometer did not rise, on average, above 21 degrees. The three warmest Farm Show years were 1998, 2000 and 2005, when the average temperature was a balmy 41 degrees.

And let’s not forget to mention snowstorms. Seven Farm Shows over the last 50 years have been snow-less. When snow did fall during the Farm Show, the average snowfall was about 3.5 inches – excluding the seven snow-less years. Folks in northern and western Pennsylvania wouldn’t blink an eye at that amount of snow!

The Farm Show with the most snowfall was 1996, when more than 28 inches of snow fell.

While no one can predict the weather during the Farm Show, Farm Show officials can regulate the temperature inside the Farm Show Complex, where the average temperature typically hovers at a balmy 65 degrees.


Center’s Website Offers More Information on Pennsylvania Municipalities, School Districts
That’s right. If you're trying to determine whether a municipality or school district is rural or urban, according to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's definition, or are looking for population estimates for municipalities or enrollment projections for school districts, check out the Center’s website at For more detailed information about a municipality or school district, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email