By Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Executive Director
We laud Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to make Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state. During remarks last week at Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences’ Ag Progress Days, Gov. Wolf articulated a vision for agriculture in Pennsylvania that lists propelling the growth of organic agriculture as a top strategy.
“Demand for organic foods has skyrocketed over the last 20 years, and at last, our production is starting to catch up,” said Gov. Wolf. “We can do more to help more producers and processors capture a bigger share of the organic market, and we can do that by leveraging our strong reputation in the marketplace.”
Pennsylvania recently surpassed Washington as a leading state for organic sales, second only to California. The Governor’s new plan includes “raising public awareness among agricultural producers of the opportunities in organic production—both unmet market demand and the premium prices organic commodities command in the market,” and calls attention to the “high demand in Pennsylvania for organic feed grains.”
This vision, along with its support for both organic producers and those who are considering transitioning to organic, sets Pennsylvania apart from nearly every other state in the country.
I, too, shared remarks at Ag Progress Days. I provided testimony before the Pennsylvania House and Senate Ag Committees to explain how PASA’s “big tent” approach to sustainable agriculture research and education brings together the likes of organic vegetable farmers, conventional row crop no-till farmers, and grazing dairy farmers to collectively measure the facets of sustainability farmers care about—like soil health and the financial viability of their business.
This work is rooted in a peer-learning network of farmers and other food system professionals across the state and beyond, who are openly and generously sharing everything from the results of their soil health tests to the grazing dairy management strategies they’ve personally honed over the course of decades. This sort of collaboration, which PASA and its members have been fostering for nearly 30 years, has helped bring Pennsylvania to where we are today. And we couldn’t be prouder.