A new report on Pennsylvania agriculture shows the industry has a $132.5 billion annual economic impact and supports more than 590,000 jobs, paying nearly $33 billion in wages annually.
The report makes strategic recommendations intended to help guide the industry as it continues to navigate a changing marketplace.
The last report was issued in January 2018, after which Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration developed a six-point plan that led to the proposal and funding of the first-ever Pennsylvania Farm Bill in 2019. That legislation has since invested $37.2 million into Pennsylvania agriculture.
In the governor’s 2021-22 budget plan, the PA Farm Bill is proposed to be funded at $13.6 million.
Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding and Ryan Unger, president and CEO of Team Pennsylvania, were joined by state Senate Democratic Agriculture Chairwoman Judy Schwank at Bell & Evans April 28 to discuss the new report and recommendations.
“When we used the last report to support the industry with the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, we didn’t know what was coming for us in 2020,” Redding said. “We saw the industry tested, then we saw its strength as it persevered.”
Latest Report Includes COVID-19 Assessment
The report includes an in-depth analysis of eight major subsectors of Pennsylvania agriculture — poultry and egg production; dairy; beef; other animals including pigs, sheep, and goats; fruits and vegetables; hardwoods and wood production; nursery, landscaping, and related activities; and food manufacturing.
“Armed with this updated data, we will lean on the leadership of our Agricultural Advisory Board to strive for improved economic vitality of agriculture,” Unger said. “As a public-private partner for the commonwealth, we will support our agricultural community as we emerge from the pandemic and capitalize on what we believe will be significant economic investment in the months and years ahead.”
The report includes an assessment of COVID-19’s impact on the industry. These impacts highlight a need to focus on building on strengths, addressing weaknesses, seizing opportunities, and confronting threats facing the industry.
“The pandemic unearthed glaring issues in how our food travels from farms to our grocery stores and then to our tables,” Schwank said. “I’m glad to see a section of this report dedicated to recognizing the difficulties the pandemic presented Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector and how so many of our farmers, producers and distributors rose to the challenge. This report presents ways for us to continue to support this vital industry and I look forward to helping enact some of those changes.”
The report was prepared in coordination with Team Pennsylvania and eConsult Solutions Inc.
The full report is available online at bit.ly/PA-AG-update.