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Economic Benefits of Working Lands

When productive farms and forests are haphazardly consumed by development, the agricultural and forest product industries that depend on these lands are hurt. The workers in these industries are hurt and the people who provide goods and services to these workers are hurt. If enough farmland in an area is converted to non-farm use, the farming communities lose the critical mass necessary to keep local farm-related businesses and hence the whole farm economy alive. Between 1982 and 2007, America lost 23,163,500 acres of farmland to development.

Nationwide, in 2012, farms produced $395 billion in agricultural goods. (2012 Census of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture) In 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reports that Pennsylvania farmers annually produce $7.4 billion in agricultural goods. The state's agricultural industry also supports food processing, marketing, transportation and farm equipment industries, contributing a total of $61 billion to Pennsylvania's economy.

Working forests are essential to a healthy environment, sustaining wildlife, cleaning our water and air, and mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration. They are also an economic resource, providing renewable natural materials. According to the American Forest & Paper Association, America's forest products industry supplies about $175 billion worth of goods each year. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture reports that each year, Pennsylvania's forests are responsible for $700 million in exports. Pennsylvania is the top producer in the country of export grade hardwood. In fact, forest products are second only to food as the state's most exported product.