In a time when “buying local” is becoming more than a catchphrase, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is spending Farm Show week reminding people that buying agricultural products from Pennsylvania producers can reap an economic benefit for rural communities and farms.
In Pennsylvania, we have the luxury of making sure plenty of our food purchases come from our state's farms because of the diversity of our agricultural operations. For example, my husband and I operate a dairy farm and grow crops such as small grains, hay, forages and corn to feed our herd. The farm just down the road focuses on vegetables and has a small beef herd. The farm at the back of ours has horses, and grows soybeans and corn.
Keep driving around the neighborhood and you will find farms that direct-market, and others that sell their products on the commodity markets. Some farms are small and specialized, and others have grown in size and scale to accommodate the next generation.
Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Greig reminded people that every exhibit at the Farm Show, be it handmade item, produce, dairy cow, poultry or livestock, was produced in Pennsylvania. He also said each dollar spent on a Pennsylvania agricultural product helps the state’s economy.
Greig is right. For example, look at the dairy industry. According to the Pennsylvania Center of Dairy Excellence, Pennsylvania-produced milk generates $2 billion in on-farm income and $5 billion in economic revenue. Each time nine more cows are added to the state’s dairy herd, one more new job is created.
This equation could be could be applied to other agricultural sectors such as horses, mushrooms, poultry and so on. Farms also support local businesses when they head to town to purchase things from the local hardware store, lumber yard and feed store. They bank with the local banks.
Buying local has be a way of life on the farm. For one week, the Farm Show is reminding customers that buying local benefits not just the consumer, but the producer as well.
-- Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade, special sections editor