Pennsylvania’s reputable agribusiness industry represents more than two centuries of heritage and quality and is a leading economic driver across the state, producing quality products — like food and hardwoods — from farm to table and forest to factory. High-quality soil, crop diversity, strong university partnerships, and farming tradition paired with strategic location and comprehensive infrastructure and logistics systems make our state an ideal location for agribusiness-focused companies.
Pennsylvania leads the nation in food-processing companies, with more than 2,300 operating across the state. The strength of the food-processing sector supports Pennsylvania’s leading-state status in the value of shipments of canned fruit and vegetable specialty products, chocolate and cocoa products, potato chips, and pretzels. Our dairy industry ranks second in the country in butter production, and in the top 10 in cheese and milk production.
Hardwoods and Paper Products
Pennsylvania lives up to its name with a hardwoods and forestry industry that’s known for its quality and sustainability. We have the largest hardwood forest in the United States, with 119 billion board feet standing saw timber in 2015 — more than five times the forest resource in the state more than 60 years ago — and we grow more than 10 percent of the nation’s Christmas trees. The forestry, logging, and lumber, paper, and secondary wood products industries employ nearly 66,000 workers across the state.
Workforce & Education
The agribusiness industry’s workforce has deep roots in Pennsylvania. With 579,000 employees, the agribusiness industry accounts for 10% of employment in the state, including nearly 66,000 employees in the forestry, logging, and lumber, paper, and secondary wood products industries.
A key component of Pennsylvania’s agribusiness community is its nearly 300 universities and more than 168,000 annual graduates. Our network of schools across the state build our talent pool, work closely with companies to develop new techniques and manufacturing practices, and provide critical research and development capabilities to constantly improve our agribusiness industries.
Penn State Extension
The Penn State Extension is an educational network offering Pennsylvanians access to the Penn State University's resources and expertise. The Extension is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state and county governments. Through this county-based partnership, Penn State Extension educators, faculty, and local volunteers work together to share research-based information with residents. The Extension offers several courses and workshops to assist agricultural businesses, from “Crop Insurance Education” to “Social Media and Mobile Technology for Agricultural Businesses.”
University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet) was founded in 1884, and has a longstanding tradition as a global leader in veterinary medicine education, research, and clinical care. Penn Vet’s Center for Animal Health and Productivity serves the agricultural community by developing innovative animal management tools and strategies for promoting economic efficiency and environmental sustainability. Penn Vet is a member of the One Health Initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.
Resources & Incentives
First Industries Fund
The First Industries Fund (FIF) is a program aimed at strengthening Pennsylvania’s agriculture and tourism industries through loans and loan guarantees. These can be used for land and building acquisition and construction, machinery and equipment purchases and upgrades, and more.
Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA)
PIDA provides low-interest loans and lines of credit for eligible businesses that commit to creating and retaining full-time jobs and for the development of industrial parks and multi-tenant facilities. Eligible uses include land and building acquisitions; machinery purchases; industrial park projects, and more.
Since 2005, the Department of Agriculture’s PAgrows program has provided technical assistance to farmers and agribusinesses seeking capital for their operations. The program provides cost sharing funding to assist producers in organic agriculture and those completing the voluntary good agricultural and good handling food safety audits and specializes in helping farmers, food processors, farmers market operators, and other agricultural businesses navigate the lending and funding process.
It also operates the Next Generation Farmer Loan program, along with DCED.
PA Preferred Program
In 2004, the PA Dept. of Agriculture introduced the PA Preferred program, and in 2011, the program was permanently established as the official brand of agricultural products made or grown in Pennsylvania. PA Preferred is a public-private partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and many companies throughout the state. The program is currently working with thousands of companies and stores to support and promote Pennsylvania products. When buying products identified by the PA Preferred logo, consumers are supporting local farms and producers and helping keep farmers and food processing jobs in Pennsylvania.