Farming has played an integral part in the development of Bedford County’s culture and communities.
Many of our small towns grew up around mills used to process the farmers’ grain. Several of the area’s banks once had the word “Farmers” in their names.
Today, agriculture is big business and in Bedford County it is a growth industry. Every five years the USDA commissions a Census of Agriculture which details almost every aspect of agricultural production in the nation.
The information it produces can be very interesting; for example, did you know that the number of Layers (egg producing chickens) in Bedford County increased by 36,368 in the past decade?
The 2007 Ag Census results suggest very positive changes have been happening. The number of farms in the county has risen by 7% since 2002, and by 24% since 1997.
The number of acres being farmed has also risen, growing by over 12,000 acres in the past decade. This is particularly good news as the 2002 census reported over 6,000 acres lost in the 1997 to 2002 timeframe.
The best news is that the market value for products sold has increased by 58% in the past five years, adding over $33.4 million to the local economy. Much of this gain has been a result of increased sales of livestock.
As our area grows, new houses, roads and businesses put pressure on agricultural lands. Seeing an increase in land used for farming suggests that Bedford County is successfully balancing both interests.
PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding commended the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce for representing the interests of the agribusiness community during a Government: It’s Your Business luncheon in October 2016:
“It is a business without walls, but every bit a business,” said Redding. “Here in Bedford County you are very blessed to have a Chamber that recognizes that. That is not universal across the state, but the way, so it is worth pointing out that this is really unique to see that kind of connection.”
The Chamber’s Agri-Business Committee works throughout the year to provide educational opportunities for students as well as the community, including:
- Agri-Business Education Month
- Government: It’s Your Business Agriculture Luncheon Featuring FFA Clubs
- Fun Farm Facts at the Fair
- Farm-to-Table Chef Showcase
- Downtown on the Farm
- Fall Farm Tour
- Agri-Business Multi-Media Marketing Campaign, including year-round radio PSA’s and annual brochure
For more information on how you can become involved with the Chamber’s AgriBusiness Committee, call the Chamber office at 814.623.2233.