Agriculture For All
One of the problems in Pennsylvania politics is the false belief that some issues are “rural issues” and others are “urban issues.” The strength of Pennsylvania’s agruculture industry affects all of us no matter where we live.
CONNECTING PENNSYLVANIA DAIRY WITH WEST AFRICAN COCOA
The hardworking men and women in the dairy industry are losing business, and we must as a Commonwealth ensure that this important industry stays in PA. One major purchaser of Pennsylvania dairy is our commonwealth’s chocolate industry, which is the largest of any state in the US. Pennsylvania chocolate is made from cocoa imported through the Port of Philadelphia from West Africa. Pennsylvania should partner with West African nations to build stronger trade relationships. We should also create a surplus farm equipment program to help outsource unneeded equipment from PA farmers to West African farmers who would benefit from the use of the more modern equipment. More efficiency in West African farming will translate into cheaper cocoa prices for Pennsylvania chocolatiers, and more opportunities for Pennsylvania Dairy.
ATTRACT CHEESE AND YOGURT PROCESSING PLANTS TO PHILADELPHIA
One of the biggest sources of revenue for dairy farmers is the production of value-added products like cheese and yogurt. But because of the perishable nature of liquid milk, it cannot easily be transported long distances. So, if Pennsylvania dairy farmers are going to access value-added markets, we must start attracting processing plants to our commonwealth. Philadelphia is a prime location for cheese and yogurt processing plants: there is plenty of zoned industrial land, with easy access to transportation networks to receive milk from rural Pennsylvania and then distribute final products across the profitable northeast region of the country. Philadelphia is also not bound be some of the more burdensome environmental regulations necessary to protect our state’s natural resources because it has the necessary infrastructure to properly handle waste water. Attracting a plant like this to Philadelphia would create jobs and help protect our important dairy industry in the Commonwealth.
PROMOTE SALE OF PENNSYLVANIA PRODUCED MILK IN SCHOOLS
Sharif is working hard to make sure that Pennsylvania schools offer healthy milk beverage options in schools for young people to drink. Daily milk consumption can play an important role in a child’s healthy eating habits, and this provides an important market for drinkable milk across the Commonwealth.
POSITION PENNSYLVANIA AS A LEADER IN THE INDUSTRIAL HEMP MARKET
Industrial hemp has been used for thousands of years in numerous applications, and until the last century was commonly grown in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania climate and soil is well suited for the growing of hemp. It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 potential applications for it across a wide spectrum of industries, including textiles, building materials, industrial products, baby care, food, paper, and energy and environmental products. Sharif believes Pennsylvania farmers should have the opportunity to grow this crop and Pennsylvania businesses should be able to manufacture and commercially market products made from hemp.
LEGALIZE CANNABIS FOR ADULT USE
Sharif believes it is time to end the prohibition on cannabis in Pennsylvania. In addition to the many benefits legalization would realize, including a new stream of recurring revenue and ending mass incarceration based on the failed war on drugs, normalization of cannabis will create an entire new agricultural market in Pennsylvania. Sharif envisions an economy where cannabis becomes like any agricultural commodity, and he plans to position Pennsylvania to take full advantage of its agricultural expertise to become a leader in that new market.
INVEST IN URBAN FARMING
Farming isn’t something that only happens in rural communities. Through vertical farms in abandoned factories, aquaponics in warehouses, community gardens in reclaimed brownfields, or urban beekeeping on green rooftops, city dwellers are producing and selling food right where they live. This emerging industry is now able to grow anything year-round, anywhere in the world. Sharif is committed to creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to bring agriculture to cities across the commonwealth.