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 Pennsylvania’s number one industry and plays a key role in the economy of many communities throughout the Fifth District and the broader Commonwealth. The Fifth Congressional District is home to a diverse array of the state’s agriculture industry, including: dairy; grains; vegetables; various specialty crops; cattle; poultry, equines; wineries; and a well-defined timber industry.
As a descendent of a long line of dairy farmers, I am proud to be an active member of the House Agriculture Committee, where I serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry. After years of hearings and information gathering, the Committee finally passed a new Farm Bill in 2014. This law remains vital for the success of our farmers and rural America. As Washington continues to get its fiscal house in order and balance the budget, I look forward to continuing to work with my House colleagues, constituents and the agriculture community 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: Dairy is the largest sector of Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry. The industry has witnessed great difficulties in the past decade, particularly in 2009, as profits were only about half the costs of production. Depressed prices have been disastrous for all producers – not just in Pennsylvania, but around the nation.
The 2014 Farm Bill repealed previous dairy support programs and replaced them with a new voluntary Dairy Margin Protection Program.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).
Timber: 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 Chairman of the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry, as well as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, I will continue oversight of the U.S. Forest Service and the various forest-related programs administered by USDA.
For more information concerning my work on agriculture issues, including legislative accomplishments and initiatives, please click on the links below and to the right, or visit my subcommittee's website by clicking here.
If you have additional questions on my views on agriculture issues, please contact my Washington, DC office.
I look forward to your feedback.