25 August 2023- Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today joined the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council at WOODBED CORP to recognize the strength of Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector and highlight how the 2023-24 budget’s significant investment will further the growth and impact of the Hardwoods Development Council and forest products industry.
With nearly 17 million acres of forestland, Pennsylvania has the most abundant hardwood forest in the United States and accounts for $21.8 billion in direct and $39.1 billion in indirect impacts on the state’s economy. More than 60,000 Pennsylvanians — ten percent of the state’s manufacturing workforce — are employed in the forest products industry.
The budget Governor Shapiro signed earlier this month increased the funding for hardwood research and promotion from $474,000 to $725,000. This is an increase of more than 50% from the previous year’s funding, which marks an important step in furthering the mission of the Hardwoods Development Council and its partners to support this impactful industry.
The Hardwoods Development Council is responsible for the development, expansion and promotion of the hardwood industry by working with state and local governments and a wide variety of partners to promote healthy working forests and sustainable, multiple-use management of timber resources on private and public land. The Council promotes and expands the development, processing and manufacturing of value-added forest products, and assists in developing domestic and foreign markets that support sustainable forest management while strengthening each sector of the hardwood industry. This work is rounded out by extensive efforts to promote public knowledge of the forest products industry in Pennsylvania by raising awareness of the role that forest products play in the daily lives of all citizens through initiatives like the Pennsylvania WoodMobile. The WoodMobile is a traveling education exhibit that provides an interactive experience about the commonwealth’s forests and has hosted over 2 million visitors since its start in 2002.
“Pennsylvania leads the nation in the production and export of hardwood lumber, and the Hardwoods Development Council has been critical to that success by providing steadfast leadership, keen industry insights, and strong partnerships to build towards shared success,” said Secretary Redding. “This year’s bipartisan budget increases the state’s investment to $725,000 to continue their work with the hardwood utilization groups and stakeholders across the state, generating economic impact and stewarding our natural resources while highlighting exciting careers in the industry.”
“On behalf of the Hardwood Utilization Groups and the forest products industry, we are grateful to Governor Shapiro and the legislature for their confidence and investments in Hardwood Research and Promotion efforts through the state budget,” said Amy Shields, Executive Director of the Allegheny Hardwood Utilization Group. “This funding will continue to increase Pennsylvania’s standing as a globally recognized leader in the forest products industry. In addition to this support, the funding of the PA Farm Bill and overall agriculture budget are important to our work through opportunities like the Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant and workforce initiatives. We have been able to leverage these funds from the State with federal investments to incentivize growth and innovation for our businesses and their employees.”
Today’s event highlighted WOODBED CORP, one of the region’s leading suppliers of mulch and wood fiber products. WOODBED CORP General Manager, Sam DeLullo, led a tour of the facility and discussed plans to use a USDA Wood Innovations GrantOpens In A New Window to improve low grade wood utilization and invasive pest control by enhancing their operation to provide kiln-dried commercial firewood and home heating products.
“As a business, the support of the state and federal government adds significant resources and momentum to our development,” said DeLullo. Through the Council and Hardwood Utilization Groups, we are able to capitalize on our partnerships and expertise to better
To learn more about Pennsylvania’s hardwood industry, please visit Hardwoods Development Council (pa.gov)