Policy Hearing: Supporting Local Agriculture

Policy Committee holds hearing about local food solutions in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, March 2 – The House Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing today in Harrisburg that examined the state of local agriculture, how the legislature can support it, and how it can help address food deserts.    

“Pennsylvania has a tremendous opportunity to use our local agriculture to address issues like food insecurity and the prevalence of food deserts in our communities,” said Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-Allegheny, who hosted today’s hearing. “We must address issues of food insecurity and we can learn a lot about how the legislature can support our local agricultural business and infrastructure from our testifiers today.”  

Testimony came from Jane Clements, CEO of Feeding Pennsylvania, who shared that Pennsylvania is home to more than 53,000 farmers so there is no need for people in Pennsylvania to go hungry. An estimated that 1.9 million people are facing food insecurity in Pennsylvania but at the same time, 34% of the food produced in the U.S. each year is wasted.   

“There is tremendous waste happening in the U.S. and Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. “Local food can play a role in addressing this and I’m committed to making sure that happens.”  

Two testifiers from the local agriculture industry also participated. Don Mahaney, owner of Scratch & Co. in Pittsburgh, and Alisa Fava-Fasnacht from Emerald Valley Artisans LLC, both shared their perspective as growers and distributors who make the local agriculture industry thrive. They highlighted the need for help in growing the pipeline and awareness for local agriculture.  

“This hearing has been fantastic and eye opening,” said Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila. “I am thrilled that we brought so many things together here with the goal to support our local agriculture through Pennsylvania. We have an opportunity in the legislature to use our tools to efficiently, effectively and environmentally eliminate food deserts and address food insecurity by focusing resources on local food and agriculture.”  

House Policy Committee Chairman, Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, also attended the hearing, alongside several other members who attended in person and virtually.  

“I love the idea of helping local farmers and distributors extend the shelf life of locally grown food,” said Bizzarro. “It’s good for the supply chain, good for farmers, and good for families.” 

The hearing was recorded and broadcast live. A recording and information about this and other House Democratic Policy Committee hearings can be found at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee