Shapiro’s visit to York farm emphasizes importance of Pa.’s rural economy

Ed Gruver//April 25, 2023

Gov. Josh Shapiro speaks of the importance of Pennsylvania’s rural economy during a recent visit to Flinchbaugh’s Orchard and Farm Market in York County. PHOTO/PAcast

Shapiro’s visit to York farm emphasizes importance of Pa.’s rural economy

Ed Gruver//April 25, 2023

Gov. Josh Shapiro drew a direct connection between the work of Pennsylvania’s farmers and the food in stores and on tables during a recent tour of Flinchbaugh’s Orchard and Farm Market in Hellam in York County. 

“I believe Pennsylvania can be the top organic farming state in the nation, but we need to give our farmers the resources and support they need to make it happen,” Shapiro said last Friday. “It’s our responsibility to make sure the next generation of Flinchbaughs have the opportunity to continue that legacy, and we can only do it by working together.” 

Mike Flinchbaugh, co-owner of Flinchbaugh’s Orchard and Farm Market, said the Shapiro Administration’s support of agriculture will “give us what we need in terms of resources to move forward in Pennsylvania.” 

During their tour, Shapiro and Department of Agriculture Acting Secretary Russell Redding spoke of the Shapiro Administration’s plans to invest in Pennsylvania agriculture via the following: 

  • Funding to protect valuable farmland. 
  • Agricultural emergency preparedness and response. 
  • Expanding organic farming throughout the state. 

The agriculture sector contributes $132 billion a year to Pennsylvania’s economy and makes up 1 in 10 jobs in the state. Pennsylvania ranks third nationally in organic sales, more than $1 billion last year, and lists more than 1,100 certified organic farms across the state. Shapiro’s budget proposes a $1 million investment for the creation of a new Organic Center of Excellence to build on Pennsylvania’s organic leadership. 

In addition, the budget proposes the following investments to support farmers and the agriculture industry: 

  • $31 million to help poultry farmers impacted by the avian flu crisis pay for testing and get reimbursed. 
  • $13.8 million to fully fund the Pennsylvania Farm Bill for the fifth year. 
  • $2.5 million for the Farmland Preservation Program that helps ensure that resources for counties will be available to produce food and feed Pennsylvania’s economy. 
  • A $2 million investment in the Fresh Food Financing Initiative will contribute to better health outcomes by improving access to PA-grown, processed, and produced foods. 
  • $1 million to create a new Organic Center of Excellence, which will improve the state’s ability to support this sector of the industry. 
  • $500,000 to create a Center for Plant Excellence that will expand supply chain opportunities and boost resources available to Pennsylvania’s diverse plant industries. 
  • $200,000 investment for farmer mental health will provide support services such as a mental health hotline, specialized training, and outreach to the agricultural community. 

York County Economic Alliance President and CEO Kevin Schreiber said Shapiro’s visit highlights the importance of the rural economy in York County and in Pennsylvania. 

“Financing farms, providing access to capital resources, and investing in broadband infrastructure to connect communities are all proposed in this budget and are vital to our commonwealth’s competitiveness,” Schreiber said.