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PA Preferred Organic™​

PA Preferred Organic™​ is a PA Farm Bill initiative to grow market opportunities for Pennsylvania farmers and keep PA a national leader in organic production. 

Organic Agriculture Industry in PA: Economic Impact, Market Dynamics, and Opportunities for Growth

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) commissioned Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) to evaluate the economic impact of the organic agriculture industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. EConsult presented highlights of this analysis and trends and changes in the organic industry over time. 

Hayley Painter from Painterland Sisters, Christa Barfield with FarmerJawn, and Dean James with Cotner Farms shared their experiences in the organic agriculture sector as farmers experiencing these trends and challenges first-hand.

Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony (USDA National Organic Standards Board, 1995). For example, inputs such as manure and compost help build soil rich in organic matter, providing nutrients to crops and requiring less dependence on synthetic fertilizers. 

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Pennsylvania consumers are increasingly interested in purchasing a greater quantity and variety of organic foods. By producing more organic products in-state, Pennsylvania farmers can meet the demands of this rapidly expanding market opportunity by diversifying their farm, generating greater income, and strengthening an already robust PA agriculture industry. With 1,125 certified organic farms and 104,805 acres of certified organic land in the commonwealth, PA farmers are well on their way to addressing this growing need.

PA Farms rank 3rd in the nation in organic sales!
Pennsylvania is among the top organic producing states:
    • #1 in Organic Livestock & Poultry, $730 million
    • #1 in Organic Mushrooms, $95.4 million
USDA-NASS 2021 Organic Survey

The PA Department of Agriculture:​

    • Administers the Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (OCCSP)​ to offset a portion of annual organic certification costs 
    • Sponsors free or low-cost technical assistance for farmers and processors to start or transition to USDA certified organic operations 
    • Supports networking opportunities between organic farmers
    • Funds PA-specific organic research on a variety of topics
    • Creates resources and educational events for farmers and agricultural professionals
    • Provides marketing opportunities through the PA Preferred Program 

For more information on the PA Preferred Organic™ Initiative, please contact Kristen Markley, Organic Initiative Manager, by email at or by phone at 717-787-6006.