03 November 2023- Governor Josh Shapiro signed House Bill 157 yesterday, officially creating a PA Preferred Organic™ brand for PA-grown organic agricultural products. Products bearing the new PA Preferred Organic label will meet both U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for organic production, and the PA Preferred® program’s rigorous standards for goods grown in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector is a major economic driver in the Commonwealth, contributing 132 billion dollars a year to Pennsylvania’s economy.
“Products that earn the PA Preferred Organic brand will give consumers confidence they are getting a quality product that meets the high standards they expect,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “The Shapiro Administration is working with the legislature to help build consumer confidence in locally-grown products, so that Pennsylvania organic farmers continue to grow their businesses’ bottom lines and keep Pennsylvania on top.”
Pennsylvania is third in the nation in organic sales with $1.09 billion annually, a 47% increase in only two years. One of only four states with more than 1,000 certified organic farms, Pennsylvania ranks number one nationally in sales of organic livestock, poultry, and mushrooms.
“Creating an easily identifiable PA Preferred Brand logo for PA-grown organic products, is a win for Pennsylvania’s farmers and producers as well as our consumers who will know that label means quality because their purchase was grown in PA, by PA Farmers, for PA families,” said Representative Eddie Day Pashinski, the bill’s prime sponsor. “House Bill 157 will help Pennsylvania continue to be a national leader in organic agriculture sales, research, and farmer training thanks to the Department of Agriculture and organizations like the Rodale Institute. I want to thank Governor Shapiro, his administration, my colleagues, and our staff, for their strong support of agriculture in Pennsylvania and their commitment to helping our farmers benefit from the rapidly expanding organics market.”
Among critical agriculture investments in the bipartisan Shapiro Administration budget for 2023-24, is $1 million to create the first-of-its-kind Organic Center of Excellence to empower and support organic farmers and businesses. The center will support the department’s food safety lab in testing products to uphold product integrity and increase consumer confidence. The department will be recruiting a recruiting an advisory board to direct the center’s work in the coming months.
Transitioning to organic — and staying certified — is an investment for farmers seeking to meet the standards that earn the USDA Certified Organic seal on their products. The seal demonstrates to consumers that products are grown and processed according to rigorous, established, scientific management practices that enhance biodiversity and soil health.
Organic farmers and those seeking to become certified organic can find in-depth information about financial and technical assistance available for meeting standards and promoting their products through the PA Preferred Organic Initiative at agriculture.pa.gov.