Agriculture is Pennsylvania’s number one industry and plays a key role in economic development of communities throughout the 5th District and the broader Commonwealth.
Agriculture is engrained in Pennsylvania’s heritage and has played an important role in our history. Today, agriculture continues to be Pennsylvania’s number one industry and remains the economic engine in many communities throughout the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania is home to a diverse array of commodities and products, including: dairy, grains, vegetables, specialty crops, cattle, poultry, equines, wineries and a well-defined timber industry.
As a descendent of dairy farmers, I am proud to be an active member of the House Agriculture Committee. Currently, I serve as Vice Chairman of the Committee, as well as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Nutrition. Last reauthorized in 2014, the Farm Bill is the central law governing federal agriculture, rural and related nutrition programs. As such, this law remains vital for the success of our farmers and rural America. Oversight of this critical law allows us to improve federal policies that govern our nation’s agricultural sector and ensure the continuation of vital research and development of new technologies and processes that will assist our family farms into the 21st century.
Rural Development: Rural Development is one of my top issues as a member of Congress and as a member of the Agriculture Committee. Creating jobs and expanding technology, such as broadband and cell phone coverage, is a major challenge that must be met in order to improve and sustain rural Pennsylvania.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a variety of programs that are extremely beneficial to rural America. My offices in Bellefonte and Titusville work with our constituents, local governments, and community organizations to help them receive this assistance in the form of grants, loans and technical assistance. For more information, please contact my Titusville office at (814) 827-3985 or Bellefonte at (814) 353-0215.
Dairy: With Pennsylvania ranking fourth in production among the states, dairy is the largest sector of Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry. Unfortunately, many dairy farmers around the nation have endured great difficulties in the past decade, due to depressed and volatile prices.
The 2014 Farm Bill repealed previous dairy support programs and replaced them with a new voluntary Dairy Margin Protection Program. To learn more about this important program, visit the website of the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Forest Products: Pennsylvania is blessed with some of the finest hardwood timber in the world. For generations timber harvesting has been an economic engine throughout the region, while also serving a dual role of providing environmental and forest management benefits. In Pennsylvania’s Fifth Congressional District, we need to look no further than our own Allegheny National Forest (ANF) to see firsthand how national forests can successfully operate for multiple uses.
More than a billion dollars in hardwoods and hardwood products are exported from the United States each year. Among the many products, forest goods range from furniture and musical instruments to flooring. As these markets continue to expand, it will be crucial to ensure there is proper management of our national forests.
Timber harvesting has numerous environmental benefits because it is an important part of proper forest management. A managed forest allows for dead trees and wood waste to be removed from the floor, rather than lying idle and decaying. Similar to weeding a garden, this kind of removal allows for a healthier forest to emerge over time. A managed forest also makes for a stronger “carbon sink,” because healthy forests better absorb carbon dioxide than untouched forests. Managing forests creates a “win-win” situation. In addition to ensuring forest health, timber and wood waste can be converted into cellulosic ethanol, wood chips and pellets, and other forms of energy needed to meet our nation’s energy demand.
As a member of both the Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources, I will continue oversight of the U.S. Forest Service and the various forest-related programs administered by USDA.
If you have questions on my views on agriculture issues, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-5121.