Agriculture is Pennsylvania’s enduring economic legacy. What path will we create for future generations?

Throughout Pennsylvania’s history, agriculture has been foundational to our economy. Today, it contributes a staggering $132.5 billion in annual economic impact and bolsters 593,600 jobs throughout the state. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s defines “agriculture” to include an array of industries, from crop and animal production and processing, to food & beverage processing, forestry, landscaping, and horticulture.

The Keystone State is home to over 53,000 farms, with agricultural presence represented in each and every county. Despite the national average farm size being 445 acres, the average farm in Pennsylvania is significantly smaller, measuring at 137 acres. Pennsylvania agriculture showcases a remarkable diversity of industries and we lead the nation in numerous competitive strengths.

As per the PA Agriculture Economic Impact Study, agriculture in Pennsylvania:

  • Contributes $1 out of every $16 in gross state product
  • Supports 1 out of every 10 jobs in the commonwealth
  • Generates $0.63 in additional economic activity for every $1 of direct output

Pennsylvania Ranks:

  • 1st
    • Number of young producers (14% of all producers in PA are age 35 or younger)
    • Mushroom production and sales, producing 46% of U.S. total
  • 2nd
    • Number of dairy operations
    • Number of Christmas tree & short-term woody crop operations
  • 3rd
    • Dollar value of organic sales
    • Dollar value of cut Christmas trees & short-term woody crop sales
    • In peaches, producing 3.4% of the U.S. total
  • 4th in apple production, producing 4.6% of the U.S. total
  • 5th in number of fruit and vegetable farms
  • 6th in dollar value of dairy sales
  • 8th in dollar value of poultry and egg sales ($1.7B), outpacing national growth

The Opportunity

Underpinning these statistics, an undeniable truth remains: that agriculture is at the nexus of the most critical conversations of our time regarding food supply, climate and energy solutions, and health of humans, animals, and our planet.

State-level analyses show that Pennsylvania’s broader economic strengths include significant investments in University-based R&D, with world-renowned leadership in Robotics, Automation, and Life Sciences; these assets are crucial to leverage for our legacy industries like agriculture to ensure a thriving future. Working together, Pennsylvania leaders can create synergy among these strengths and solve pressing concerns of global importance, while safeguarding our own industries, and establish Pennsylvania as an epicenter for these critical solutions.

To ensure Pennsylvania agriculture can rise to the challenge and win, a growing, dedicated, nonpartisan coalition of leaders in the state are focused on creating the enabling conditions for ‘Advanced Agriculture’, a term that describes innovative approaches to growing and processing agricultural products, using cutting-edge technology and biological methods to achieve higher quality, increased efficiency, and reduced environmental impact, while supporting business profitability and resiliency. Learn more about Advanced Agriculture here.

The onus is on today’s Pennsylvania leaders – from across industry, government, academia, labor, and nonprofits – to come together to help PA farms not only compete nationally, but lead globally in this way. By focusing attention and resources on creating the conditions for these types of advancements, PA can safeguard it’s agricultural resources and ensure that it’s agriculture industries thrive for generations to come.

The Collaborative

The Pennsylvania Advanced Agriculture Cross-Sector Collaborative is a statewide network that convenes leaders across public and private sectors for this express purpose: to accelerate economic opportunities presented by ‘Advanced Agriculture’ that position Pennsylvania as a leader nationally and globally.

Learn more about the collaborative here.