Mar 17, 2023
Bill proposes making Pennsylvania organic program permanent

Pennsylvania lawmakers are again proposing a bill to make a program helping farmers transition to organic growing a permanent part of the state budget.

The bill is sponsored by state Reps. Maureen Madden and Eddie Day Pashinski, who say the PA Preferred Organic Program helps residents identify and buy locally grown produce.

“Pennsylvanians are increasingly seeking a greater quantity and variety of organic foods at their markets and groceries,” the lawmakers wrote in a memo seeking legislative support for the bill. “By making PA-produced organic products easily identifiable and encouraging our farmers to produce more organic products in-state, Pennsylvania farmers can continue to benefit from this rapidly expanding market.”

Pennsylvania lawmakers are proposing a bill to make a program helping farmers transition to organic growing a permanent part of the state budget. Photo: File

In 2021, Pennsylvania ranked third in the nation for organic sales, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

“The program would not compete with other Pennsylvania producers but would instead further enhance Pennsylvania’s brand recognition and ensure the PA Preferred trademark is leveraged fairly across all production methods,” Pashinski, who chairs the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee, said in an article in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

The program would continue to be administered by the state Department of Agriculture if made permanent, according to the bill.

Organic produce and organic food producers are also included in the proposed state budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. In his first budget address as governor, Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed allocating $1 million to expanding Pennsylvania’s organic agriculture industry by creating an Organic Center of Excellence.

The funds “will grow the state’s ability to support this sector of the industry,” the Department of Agriculture said in a statement.

State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said the proposed spending plan will support the commonwealth’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry through “targeted, thoughtful investments and resources for innovation.”

“Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget makes it clear that he values Pennsylvania farmers and the hard work we do to keep Pennsylvanians safe and keep them fed,” Redding said in a statement.

The department will defend its proposed budget at a Senate Appropriations hearing on March 28.

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