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July/August 2009

Inside This Issue:


Handbook Offers Guidance, Advice to Pennsylvania Agritourism Operators
You know the business of agriculture. But now you’re considering a move toward agritourism. What do you need to do to develop your agricultural business into something for tourists? A new handbook published by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania may provide some answers.

Your Agritourism Business in Pennsylvania: A Resource Handbook, can help farmers make the connection between tourism and their current agricultural business. The handbook was researched and written by Dr. Susan Ryan and Sean Hayes of the Tourism Research Center at California University and was sponsored by a grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

The handbook is geared toward those who are new to agritourism or have been in the business for years. And, unlike other agritourism publications, it shares insights specific to agritourism in Pennsylvania, which is unique in comparison to agritourism in other states.

The book has four parts. The first two, Is Agritourism Right for You and Getting Started, help those who are considering agritourism. The first section provides a brief overview of agritourism and describes the types of agritourism that are occurring in Pennsylvania. The second section focuses on the need to conduct an inventory of the farm’s agritourism assets and also covers business and financial planning, human resources and zoning. 

The last two sections, Strategies for Success and Help Beyond this Handbook, serve as resources to start an agritourism business and as handy references for those already in the business. Section three covers the topic of marketing and research and section four provides a long list of federal, state, and nonprofit resources that can offer support and assistance for many aspects of an agritourism business.

Throughout the handbook, the authors provide worksheets that readers can duplicate and examples of the concepts they discuss.

The authors note that, while the handbook offers ideas and advice on agritourism in Pennsylvania, it is not a substitute for comprehensive legal, insurance, tax or financial counseling. And it does not replace the need to determine and understand rules and regulations for a specific area. Wherever possible, the handbook directs the reader to those who can answer more specific questions. And, while the authors took every precaution to provide accurate information in the handbook, the information it offers is subject to change. 

For a copy of Your Agritourism Business in Pennsylvania: A Resource Handbook, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or visit

Agritourism in Pennsylvania

Another Useful Resource on Agritourism
Agritourism in Pennsylvania: An Industry Assessment, a report published by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania in 2006, also may be a useful resource for agricultural businesses considering agritourism.

The report is based on research that looked at the opportunities for and consequences of the growing agritourism industry for Pennsylvania’s rural areas and the tourism and agricultural industries.

The research was conducted by Dr. Susan Ryan, Kristy DeBord and Kristin McClelland of California University of Pennsylvania. For the study, the researchers surveyed key stakeholder groups, which included agritourism operators, agricultural operators (farmers), state Tourism Promotion Agencies/Convention and Visitors’ Bureaus (TPAs/CVBs), other agritourism product stakeholders (industry and organization representatives), and agritourists.

The report is available on the Center’s website at


2009 Survey Results Offer Insights on Rural Households
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has updated its database with the results of the 2009 Rural Pennsylvania Current Population Survey (RuralPA-CPS).  Results from this year’s survey include responses from 1,408 rural and 492 urban householders about their family, home, income, employment, education, and health insurance. 

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has been conducting the annual survey of rural households since 2005; in 2006, the survey was expanded to include urban households. This year’s survey was conducted from January to March.

Following is a comparison of results from the 2006-2007 and 2008-2009 survey responses for rural households. The Center combined the two years’ results to increase validity.

From 2006-2007 to 2008-2009, the rural unemployment rate remained unchanged (8 percent). However, there were some changes in the characteristics of the unemployed and their households:

• The percentage of households with children declined from 55 percent in 2006-2007 to 44 percent in 2008-2009.
• The percentage of households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increased from 14 percent to 19 percent.
• The percentage of households with two or more unemployed persons increased from 9 percent to 10 percent. Employed Part-Time

The percentage of rural adults who were employed part-time decreased from 20 percent in 2006-2007 to 17 percent in 2008-2009. Eighty-four percent of part-time employees in 2006-2007 had health insurance and 86 percent had health insurance in 2008-2009. From 2006-2007 to 2008-2009, there was no significant change among adult part-time employees in terms of age, household income, poverty rate, and educational attainment.

Low-Income Households (Incomes less than 200 percent of poverty)
There was no change in the percentage of low-income rural households from 2006-2007 to 2008-2009 (32 percent). However, there were some changes in the characteristics of these households:

• In 2006-2007, 33 percent of households were single person and in 2008-2009, 37 percent were single person.
• In 2006-2007, 36 percent of households had children, while in 2008-2009, 29 percent had children. There was also a decline in single parent households (27 percent to 24 percent) and an increase in married couples with children households (61 percent of 64 percent).
• The percentage of households receiving heating assistance and participating in SNAP also increased (23 percent to 27 percent receiving heating assistance, and 21 percent to 23 percent participating in SNAP).
• The percentage of low-income householders that were unemployed increased from 14 percent to 16 percent.

Households with Two or More Working Adults
From 2006-2007 to 2008-2009, there was no significant change in the percentage of rural households with two or more working adults (37 percent and 36 percent, respectively). The number of married couple households without children increased from 46 percent in 2006-2007 to 48 percent in 2008-2009.

Single Person Households
The percentage of single person households increased from 2006-2007 to 2008-2009 (19 percent to 23 percent). The poverty rate among persons living alone declined from 20 percent in 2007-2006 to 17 percent in 2008-2009.

Young Adults
In 2006-2007, rural young adults (18 to 34 years old) comprised 20 percent of the total rural population. In 2008-2009, this percentage decreased to 18 percent. Seventeen percent of rural young adult householders participated in SNAP in 2008-2009, a 4 percentage point increase from 2006-2007, when 13 percent participated in SNAP. There was no significant change in median income for rural young adult householders from 2006-2007 to 2008-2009 ($49,000 and $50,000, respectively).

Homeowners with a Mortgage
In 2006-2007, 42 percent of rural householders had a mortgage. In 2008-2009, 46 percent had a mortgage. Forty-eight percent of householders with a mortgage in 2008-2009 had children in their household, a slight decline from 2006-2007 when 50 percent had children. In 2008-2009, the median monthly mortgage payment was $728, $88 higher than in 2006-2007 when the median monthly payment was $640. In 2008-2009, 6 percent of the householders with a mortgage received heating assistance, a slight increase from 2006-2007 (5 percent). The median income for a rural household with a mortgage was $65,000, or $5,000 higher than it was in 2006-2007.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the current recession began in December 2007. A comparison of the results from the 2006-2007 RuralPA-CPS and the 2008-2009 RuralPA-CPS shows that the economic recession is having an impact on rural Pennsylvania households, particularly those that are low-income, unemployed, and have low educational attainment levels.  These results also suggest that the full impact of the recession has yet to be felt and that the recession is affecting different economic and demographic groups as it continues to play out.


Chairman’s Message
In 2006, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania released the results of research on agritourism in Pennsylvania. For those who may not be familiar with the term agritourism, here’s a brief explanation: agritourism includes most any activity conducted on a working farm for the enjoyment of visitors that generates income for the owner.

For the study, Dr. Susan Ryan of California University of Pennsylvania and a team of researchers surveyed agritourism operators, farmers, tourist promotion agencies and agritourists to understand the types of activities being offered and enjoyed in Pennsylvania.

They found that approximately 90 percent of those surveyed said agritourism was an economic growth opportunity for Pennsylvania’s rural regions.

While the researchers found that the growth potential for agritourism was positive, and that there were a good number of public services available for entrepreneurs looking to start a business, they could find no Pennsylvania-specific guidance for agricultural operators who were interested in starting an agritourism operation.

To fill that gap, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania once again contracted with Dr. Ryan to research and write a guidebook for Pennsylvania farmers who were interested in developing an agritourism business.

The results of that research project are highlighted on Page 1, and the handbook is now available from the Center.

We trust that the handbook will be a good starting point for agritourism entrepreneurs and a boost for those who are looking to expand their agritourism business. And while the handbook offers some great ideas and advice, the authors remind readers that it is not a substitute for the necessary legal, insurance, tax or financial counseling that should be obtained before starting any new business endeavor.

On Page 4, we highlight the results of another Center-sponsored research project that focused on an opportunity for Pennsylvania’s aquaculture industry. Dr. Steven Hughes of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania developed and tested organic feeds for rainbow trout to determine if these feeds could support healthy growth and cost effective production of these food fish. The research also entailed a market analysis for the demand for organically produced aquaculture products. This portion of the study was conducted by the Regional Economic Development District Initiatives of South-Central Pennsylvania, or REDDI.

The results for both portions of the research were positive and offered strong evidence of the opportunities that may be available for Pennsylvania aquaculture.

Finally, I’d like to welcome Michelle Lady to the Center’s board. Earlier this year, Governor Ed Rendell appointed Michelle as one of his representatives to our board. Michelle replaces Steve Crawford, who was appointed as Chief of Staff for Governor Rendell. On behalf of the board, I would like to acknowledge the contributions made by Steve to the success of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and look forward to working with Michelle on issues that impact our state’s 3.4 million rural residents.

Senator John Gordner


Michelle LadyCenter Welcomes New Board Member
In May, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania welcomed Michelle Lady, a special assistant to the Secretary for Legislative Affairs in the office of Governor Edward G. Rendell, to its board.

As a special assistant, Ms. Lady oversees the legislative activities of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Fish and Boat Commission, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Ms. Lady also tracks the movement of all legislation introduced by the General Assembly, and serves an essential role in executing the Governor’s budget and legislative initiatives.

Ms. Lady has a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Science from Messiah College.


Research Results Support Feasibility of Developing Organic Feed for Pennsylvania’s Aquaculture Industry
Americans consume about 16 pounds of fish and shellfish per person per year, according to a 2007 report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This represents a 7 percent increase in consumption from 2000. If the percentage continues to increase, it could be great news for Pennsylvania’s aquaculture industry, as sales of food fish made up about 81 percent of total aquaculture sales in the state in 2008, according to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Statistics Service. Aquafarmers also could tap into more lucrative niche markets by producing organic aquacultured products.

To determine if organically certified feeds could support healthy and economic cultures of rainbow trout, Dr. Steven Hughes of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania developed and tested feed for rainbow trout using only organically certified plant or fish proteins and oils as the primary components.

In general, the research, which was sponsored by a grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, identified sources of organic feed ingredients, formulated and produced two experimental feeds, and confirmed that these organic formulations supported vigorous and cost effective food fish.

The research also included a market analysis of the demand for organic aquaculture products in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. This portion of the research was conducted by the Regional Economic Development District Initiatives of South-Central Pennsylvania (REDDI), a 501(c)(4) organization. 

Overall, the feed development results offered strong evidence that there are opportunities to use organic products to lead the expansion of aquaculture opportunities and businesses in rural Pennsylvania.

The marketing feasibility study found that various trends – including the consumption of more healthful diets, increases in ethnic populations that eat more fish-based meals, and increased consumer confidence in “organically grown” seafood – may offer more opportunities for marketing Pennsylvania aquacultured products.

The marketing study cautions that on-farm producers will continue to face strong competition from imports and large vertically integrated processors/sellers. However, by identifying niche markets, investigating cultural and regional product branding, reducing middleman distribution systems and using direct sales, on-farm aquafarmers may well be able to tap into new markets for high-value fish sales.

For a copy of the research results, Creation of Organic Feed Formulations for Rural Pennsylvania Aquafarms, call the Center at (717) 787-9555, email or visit

Dr. Steven Hughes of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania developed and tested feed for rainbow trout using only organically certified plant or fish proteins and oils as part of a research grant sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Photo by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

Census Bureau Looking for Community Partners for 2010 Census
The United States Census Bureau is gearing up for the next decennial census and is encouraging state and local government officials and community and business representatives to form Complete Count Committees to ensure that everyone is counted.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, many people are unfamiliar with the census or the fact one will occur in 2010. And, many more are unaware of the benefits a complete count offers, including congressional representation and the allocation of federal dollars.

The decennial census, scheduled to begin on April 1, 2010, is mandated by the U.S. Constitution (Article 2, Section 2). The Census Bureau relies on a broad range of partners, who participate in Compete Count Committees, to encourage constituent participation in the census and attain a complete and accurate count of the U.S population.

The 2010 Census will be the short form only – just 10 questions – as the long form is now part of the annual American Community Survey. 

For more information about becoming a 2010 Census partner, or forming a Complete Count Committee, visit www.census/gov/2010census.


Second Wave of Longitudinal Project Completed
Results Provide Information on the Educational, Occupational, Residential Aspirations of Rural Youth
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have completed the second wave of a longitudinal study sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. The study, which began in 2004, is examining the educational and career aspirations and future residential plans of rural Pennsylvania school students. It is also examining the factors influencing their aspirations, whether their plans change as they age, and if they attain their goals.

In its entirety, the study is designed to include four waves of data, collected every other year, beginning in 2004 and continuing through 2010. Currently, the researchers are completing the third wave of the study.

In 2006-2007, the researchers, Dr. Diane K. McLaughlin, Mary Ann Demi and Alisha Curry of Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Anastasia R. Snyder of Ohio State University, completed the second wave of data collection.

Wave 2 details
In general, the study is following two cohorts of rural youth who were in the 7th and 11th grades in Wave 1 (2004-2005) and, most recently, in 9th grade and 1 year past high school in Wave 2. 

Wave 2 collected survey data from 1,492 rural youth (1,094 in 9th grade and 378 youth who are 1 year out of high school). Of these youth, 946 participated in Wave 1 of the study (625 in 9th grade and 321 who were 1 year out of high school).

For the study, the younger cohort (9th grade) was surveyed in school and the older cohort was surveyed by mail, Internet and telephone.

Below is a sample of the findings from the youth who participated in both Waves 1 and 2 of the study. 

Key Findings: Younger Cohort
• Between Wave 1 and Wave 2, there was an increase in the educational aspirations of the younger cohort, as more aspired to pursue vo-technical training or attend a 2-year or 4-year college.
• About 33 percent of 9th graders in the panel sample reported wanting to live in rural Pennsylvania as an adult, versus living in urban Pennsylvania, an area outside of Pennsylvania, or not knowing where they wanted to live. 
• When the same individuals are compared from Wave 1 to Wave 2, their educational aspirations were fairly stable. When aspirations did change, a larger percentage increased, rather than decreased, their educational aspirations from Wave 1 to Wave 2.
• Occupational aspirations changed between Waves 1 and 2, indicating that the younger cohort is not settled on their occupational aspirations at this point in their lives.
• Just over 50 percent of the youth had the same occupational aspirations in Wave 1 as Wave 2. Of those who did change, the majority seemed to shift their occupational aspirations to jobs that are typically not associated with higher wages and benefits, such as service and technical and labor and production jobs rather than professional and managerial jobs.

Key Findings: Older Cohort
• Educational aspirations increased between Wave 1 and Wave 2. Occupational aspirations shifted toward managerial and professional jobs instead of service and technical, and labor and production jobs. The older cohort experienced a slight shift toward aspirations to live in rural Pennsylvania in adulthood.
• Almost 75 percent had the same educational aspirations in both waves of the study. For those with changed aspirations, almost twice as many raised as lowered their educational aspirations from Wave 1 to Wave 2.
• About half of the older cohort in the panel had no change in their occupational aspirations from Wave 1 to Wave 2. More than 20 percent of those who did change occupational aspirations chose the professional or managerial category rather than the service and technical or labor and production categories.
• Just over half of the respondents had the same residential aspirations in Wave 1 as Wave 2. Among those who changed their residential aspirations, slightly more preferred rural Pennsylvania in Wave 2 than left that category between Wave 1 and Wave 2.
• The older cohort is very attracted to their local community, but believe they need to move away to achieve their educational and career goals.

The researchers will offer policy considerations relevant for shaping youth educational, occupational and residential aspirations and that would contribute to improving youth attainment of their aspirations as additional waves of the study are completed.

Report available
For a copy of the Wave 2 results, Rural Youth Education Project Second Wave, call or email the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or, or visit


Just the Facts: Rural Minority Population Growth
Minorities are fueling rural Pennsylvania’s population growth. From 2000 to 2008, U.S. Census Bureau data showed that rural Pennsylvania gained about 32,300 persons, which accounted for a 1 percent gain in population. The number of minorities (non-white and/or Hispanic) in rural areas grew by 72,900 persons (46 percent), while the number of non-minorities (whites, non-Hispanic) declined by 40,600 (-1 percent).

Every rural county in Pennsylvania had an increase in minorities from 2000 to 2008. The largest increases were in Carbon, Forest, Monroe and Pike counties, where the number of minorities doubled in each.

Even when rural counties had an overall population decline, they experienced an increase in the minority population. For example, the 32 rural counties that lost population from 2000 to 2008 collectively had a 24 percent increase in the number of minorities.

Despite the large increases, minorities still comprise a relatively small proportion of the rural population. In 2008, less than 7 percent of rural Pennsylvanians were minorities. In urban areas, 23 percent of the population were minorities.

Nationally, minorities make up 34 percent of the population. Among the 50 states, Pennsylvania ranks 31st in the percentage of minorities. California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas have the nation’s highest percentages, each with more than 50 percent. Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia have the nation’s lowest percentages, each with less than 10 percent.

According to data from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s 2006-2009 RuralPA-CPS, rural minorities are more likely to live in a household with children than non-minority households (46 percent and 30 percent, respectively). Rural minorities also are younger (average age of 31) than non-minorities (average age of 43). Rural minorities also have higher levels of educational attainment: 26 percent of adult minorities had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 23 percent of non-minority adults. However, there was no significant difference in income between rural minority households and rural non-minority households.

Looking to the future, U.S. Census Bureau projections show that minorities will become the majority in 2042.

While similar data do not exist for Pennsylvania, projections from the Pennsylvania State Data Center show that between 2000 and 2030, the non-white population will increase 51 percent and the white population will increase 1 percent. In 2030, non-whites are predicted to comprise 18 percent of the population in Pennsylvania.