Five-point Support for PA’s Largest Industry Announced at 2014 Farm Show
HARRISBURG – Allentown Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Ed Pawlowski marked the opening of the 98th Pennsylvania Farm Show this weekend by announcing his support for the state’s farmers and pledging to work with them to improve and expand the Commonwealth’s largest economic resource.
“You should know that as governor I will be committed to the support, expansion and growth of agriculture in our Commonwealth,” Pawlowski said during a candidate’s forum on the opening day of the exhibition.
His “Growing Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Industry” plan includes five major points aimed at expanding the markets for Pennsylvania products and supporting the state’s farming community.
“One, I would continue the “PA Preferred” Buy Local initiative and expand it whenever possible,” Pawlowski said. “Two, I would expand the REAP program and support the use of tax credits to offset the costs to modernize farms.
“Three, I would increase investment in our ports to help open and increase foreign markets for Pennsylvania-produced resources. Four, I will promote and support the expansion of organic farming practices. And finally, as Governor, I will be aggressive in calling on our PA Congressional Delegation and Washington to support the passage of a Federal Farm Bill.”
The mayor of Pennsylvania’s third-largest city noted that agriculture – the main driver in the state’s economy – generates $67.5 billion in revenue and one in every seven jobs for state residents. “As an urban mayor, I may not have true dirt under my fingernails, but I want you to know this: If I have the privilege to serve you as Governor, you will have a friend and ally in Harrisburg,” Pawlowski said.
Pawlowski’s “Growing Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Industry Plan” includes the following points:
1) Supporting and expanding the “PA Preferred” Buy Local initiative that puts the blue-and-gold PA Preferred logo on products with origins in Pennsylvania. PA Preferred makes it easier for consumers to identify agricultural food and products grown and produced here and helps local retailers promote them.
Instituting “Buy Local” procurement practices into state contracts for food service purchases made for public schools, state-run medical facilities and state prisons, to bring fresh, locally grown food to our communities. According to a 2009 St. Joseph’s University (SJU) Research Study, if every household spent $10 per week on PA Preferred products, $2.9 billion would be reinvested in the state.
2) Expanding the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program and supporting the use of tax credits to offset the costs to modernize and expand farms. These tax credits are especially important to help farmers, especially smaller ones, invest in the latest technologies in order to modernize aging facilities, as well as to diversify and expand operations, while keeping production prices low and remaining competitive. Modernization programs can help encourage and incentivize next generation farmers to remain involved in the family-business.
3) Increasing investment in ports to prepare for larger ships. Pennsylvania food products are in demand around the world largely because of the U.S. food-safety regulations. We must capitalize on this growing demand.
In addition, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that nationwide demand for truck drivers will grow by 21 percent from 2010 to 2020. Pennsylvania, he said, must prepare to address this workforce gap if it’s to create an environment that allows agricultural growers, producers and processors to efficiently transport products to markets outside the Commonwealth and abroad.
“Additionally, we need to continue to develop tax incentives and loan interest loan programs for small businesses to brand and market products overseas and help them adapt to new protocols that will allow them to enter and do business in the global marketplace,” Pawlowski said.
“Pennsylvania should ramp up government-led and sponsored export trade missions, as other states are doing, to open up new markets for our agriculture products, which will create jobs and boost state revenue.”
He also added support for House Bill 121, which would allow Pennsylvania wineries to export their products to other states.
4) Promoting the use of organic farming practices. As demand for organic products increases, more Pennsylvania farmers are integrating new farming technologies to meet this growing need and benefit from organic farming systems’ increased profitability. However, more training and education are needed to help farmers, who want to employ organic farming practices, make these changes, with incentives to help reduce production costs.
“That’s why I will consider creating a program that allows farmers to write-off a portion of their losses incurred from instituting organic farming practices,” he continued. “I will also work with farmers, both conventional and organic, to address regulatory issues that make it harder for farmers to grow, produce and sell their products.
“In particular, I will look for ways to increase the number of certified organic livestock processors to help organic farmers process their products here in the Commonwealth without having to sacrifice quality or go outside Pennsylvania for processing.”
5) Aggressively calling on the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation and Washington to pass a workable Farm Bill to provide farmers more certainty when making decisions about what to do with their land. This bill provides a critical safety net for farmers that they depend on, and reduces hunger throughout the United States and here in Pennsylvania through the Food Stamp program, as well as other essential nutritional initiatives.
“I will also urge our Congressional Delegation to pass a long-term solution to address our state’s crumbling infrastructure, with a plan to deal with the deficit in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that doesn’t involve raising gas prices, which increases the cost burdens on our local farmers,” Pawlowski concluded.
The “Growing Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Industry” and Pawlowski’s positions on Pennsylvania’s Economy, Education, Healthcare, Fiscal Responsibility and Marcellus Shale can be found at www.pawlowskiforpa.com.