2011-11-03 / Local & State

‘PA Preferred’ To Be Official State Ag Brand

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – “PA Preferred” is about to become the official brand of fruits, vegetables and other agricultural commodities grown or sourced in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign a bill Thursday to tweak the Pennsylvania Preferred program. The Legislature passed the bill last month requiring the Department of Agriculture to formally acquire, register, license and promote the trademark – a yellow check mark superimposed atop a blue keystone next to the words “PA Preferred.”

The program has been around since 2004, but Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland, said Wednesday he proposed the bill after hearing of some companies and producers hesitant to take part if it was just an administrative program that could disappear at any time.

The bill “formalizes it a little bit” and lays out what the Agriculture Department’s responsibilities with the brand, said Corbett spokeswoman Kelli Roberts.

“It gives consumers interested in doing so the peace of mind they are buying local,” Roberts said in a phone interview. The program website includes an ability to search for program products by ZIP code.

James Dunn, a professor of agricultural economics at Penn State University, was not aware of studies that measured the financial impact of the program. But he said it was a popular designation in the state’s diverse agricultural industry.

“This is a relatively inexpensive way to help the local economy,” Dunn said. “Everything else being the same, why not buy the local product?”

Bill Phillips, owner of Fort LeBoeuf Maple Syrup in Waterford, hasn’t signed up for the designation but plans to do so. Phillips, vice president of the Northwest Pennsylvania Maple Association, said more consumers have become interested in buying locally in recent years.

“There’s a certain reputation and a face behind it, too,” he said..

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