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PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center

The PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center recently released a report on the economical and environmental benefits of sustainably produced, local agriculture. The organization also offered a blueprint of policies they hope state legislators will adopt and introduce in Pennsylvania.

The report, "Healthy Farms, Healthy Environment: State and Local Policies to Improve Pennsylvania’s Food System and Protect our Land and Water," highlighted programs, such as Vermont’s Farm to Plate Initiative, which pushed for developing sustainable agriculture methods.

Citing USDA numbers, Allen Matthews, director of the Sustainable Agriculture Program at Chatham University, said farm-to-table food consumption in Southwest Pennsylvania is on the rise. In the nine county region, direct farm sales rose from 7.7 million dollars in 1997 to 10.1 million in 2007.

“It strengthens the community – both the local community and for the farmers," he said. "It protects the environment and it increases the impact for the local economy."

Pennsylvania’s Association for Sustainable Agriculture estimates that if every household in the state spent $10 dollars on regionally-produced food, it would generate $48 million for and into the local economy.