Helping Pennsylvanian Farmers
Today’s Agriculture Committee hearing on the importance of specialty crops and organics in the Farm Bill is a good way to focus attention in Washington on the needs of Pennsylvanian farmers and to demonstrate their positive impact on the economy. In Pennsylvania, specialty crops, in addition to dairy, represent the majority of agricultural production. Nationally, organics currently constitute 4% of all food sales, and organic fruits and vegetables make up 12% of U.S. fruit and vegetable sales. The organics industry is growing at a rate of over 8% a year and creating jobs at four times the rate of the national average. Due to the increasing popularity of specialty crops and organic products, these industries are having a significant and positive economic impact in Pennsylvania.
The 2008 Farm Bill recognized specialty crops and organics as a crucial part of America’s agricultural industry for the first time. As Congress considers the 2012 Farm Bill, we must continue to build upon the successful investments in specialty crops and organics. I was grateful to have Kim Tait, owner of Tait Farm Foods in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, testify before the Committee on the importance of the Farm Bill programs which support specialty crops and organics. Tait Farm Foods not only produces a wide range of certified organic fruits, vegetables and greenhouse products, but it also features a community-supported agriculture project, a value added facility, an on-farm retail store and several educational and research partnerships. Mrs. Tait’s operation is exemplary of the exciting and progressive farming happening all throughout the Commonwealth.