Pennsylvania Agriculture: A Look at the Economic Impact and Future Trends

Agriculture has a long rich history in Pennsylvania and has been a driving force of the state’s economy for centuries. While the number of Pennsylvanians farming has decreased, the importance of agriculture to the Commonwealth’s economy has not.

In 2018, Team PA, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, commissioned Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) and Temple University’s Fox School of Business to examine the many diverse forms of agriculture produced in Pennsylvania: from crop and animal production, food and beverage processing and manufacturing, to forestry and landscaping.

The report contained three purposes:

    1. Provide an account of the economic impact of the agriculture industry on the Commonwealth.
    2. Inform and create a roadmap for the industry to identify strengths and potential new opportunities.
    3. Provide industry and policy recommendations to help adapt to the macro trends the industry faces.

Utilizing techniques such as SWOT analysis, economic cluster analysis and input/output modeling, the team was able to provide a comprehensive analysis of the Pennsylvanian agriculture industry, including its economic impact, trends that will impact the industry over the course of the next decade, and recommendations on how to adapt to the inevitable changes that will affect an industry undergoing a period of transformation

The ESI team determined that Agriculture directly accounts for approximately $83.8 billion in economic output and over $22.7 billion in value add, and it supports over 280,500 jobs and $10.9 billion in earnings. Within the agriculture sector, food processing and manufacturing is the largest sub-sector, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the economic output and 32 percent of the total direct employment. Production agriculture, which includes crops and animals, accounts for approximately 10 percent of the total direct output ($9.2 billion), but generates 29 percent of the total direct employment.

The report additionally makes recommendations for the future of the industry divided into six individual categories:

  • Increase Branding and Market Development
  • Invest in Agricultural Infrastructure
  • Improve in Business and Regulatory Environment
  • Invest in Workforce and Education
  • Invest in Physical Infrastructure
  • Support Product Diversification

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