According to a recent Team Pennsylvania (Team PA) report about Pennsylvania agriculture, although less than 2 percent of the state’s population is engaged in production agriculture, the industry continues to be a key employer and economic contributor.
The industry supports more than 280,500 jobs that generate $10.9 billion in earnings, and it accounts for approximately $83.8 billion in direct economic output, including $22.8 billion in value-add. When links between agriculture and other sectors of the economy are considered, those numbers increase: 579,000 jobs—one out of every 10 in the Commonwealth—generate $26.9 billion in total earnings, and total economic output jumps to $135.7 billion.
To ensure the continued success of this important industry and enable improved environmental stewardship and responsibility, the report reveals that Team PA, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA), and the Agricultural Advisory Board are collaborating on a 10-year strategic plan.
Focus areas include:
In addition to business and regulatory improvements, the Team PA report cites technical and non-technical innovation as core drivers in influencing the future of agriculture in the Commonwealth. Venture capital investments in agriculture technology continue to grow, reaching $4.6 billion domestically in 2015. These investments will be increasingly necessary to finance technologies that improve efficiency and conservation, such as crop biotechnology, farm management software and agriculture data capturing.
To further encourage Pennsylvania farmers to implement conservation projects, they can apply for Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program tax credits. The program provides each agricultural operation up to $150,000 in tax credits to fund 50 to 75 percent of a conservation project investment. In the first 10 years of this program, the tax credit has been used for projects that have kept sediment on fields and nitrogen and phosphorus out of Pennsylvania waterways.
Conservation Economics can work with you to assess the financial and environmental impacts of these regulatory, tax and investment changes to create the best solutions in areas including agricultural production and conservation easements. We partner with individual, corporate and government landowners to find the balance between financial returns and sustainable land management. Let us help you understand how to create long-term value from your property through ecologically and socially responsible investment solutions.