Report: Pa. agriculture has $136 billion economic impact

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Russell Redding and Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf
Pa. Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding (left) and Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf lift a glass of milk to toast agriculture during the 2018 Pennsylvania Farm Show Jan. 10

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Speaking to more than 500 state and local officials at the Pennsylvania Farm Show today, Jan. 10, Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf made one point clear: Agriculture is an incredibly vital industry to the state’s economy that policymakers and industry must work collaboratively to strengthen and grow.

The governor made his remarks at the eight-day show’s annual Public Officials Day luncheon.

“I know firsthand the transformative power of agriculture,” said Wolf. “As public officials, I’m sure you see that power on display in your own communities across the state.”

Economic driver

During the luncheon, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture unveiled a new economic impact analysis that shows agriculture has a $135.7 billion annual economic impact for the commonwealth and supports nearly 580,000 jobs paying approximately $27 billion in wages.

The report also makes strategic recommendations intended to help guide Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry as it responds to changing demands in the marketplace and policy uncertainty in Washington.

“While I firmly believe in the strength of Pennsylvania agriculture, I don’t want us to suffer the economic consequences of complacency because we weren’t looking to the horizon,” said Wolf.

“At the same time, I don’t want state government to be a barrier to growth. Whether it be streamlining our regulatory processes, making new investments in infrastructure, or creating a more competitive business climate, I want Pennsylvania to be a place where everybody and every business can succeed, so we as a state will do what is necessary to accomplish that.”

Critical time

“Agriculture is at a critical intersection as an industry,” said state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

“The interplay of changing consumer preferences, increasing competition, and policy uncertainty require us to be exceptional storytellers. We must articulate our value to — and our role in — the commonwealth. This economic impact analysis gives us an additional tool to tell that story.”

Six recommendations

The report makes a series of recommendations under six categories:

  • capitalize on branding and marketing opportunities; expand agricultural infrastructure, such as processing and manufacturing capacities;
  • continue improving the state’s regulatory processes and business climate;
  • broaden workforce development and education opportunities;
  • make additional investments in infrastructure systems, such as transportation and broadband; and
  • diversify product lines to strengthen markets and improve resiliency.

Since taking office, the Wolf administration has invested more than $50 million in grants, loans and tax credits to help farmers start or expand their operations, help producers upgrade their equipment, install conservation practices, and preserve their farms.

The report was produced jointly by Econsult Solutions and Temple University’s Fox School of Business in partnership with the department and Team Pennsylvania.

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