Dinniman: Chester County’s Mushroom Boom Continues
WEST CHESTER (August 27, 2016) – It’s common knowledge that southern Chester County is the undisputed “Mushroom Capital of the World.” But did you know just how big the mushroom business is in our region?
Pennsylvania-grown mushrooms sales set a record high of $570.48 million in the year ending June 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimated this week. The Commonwealth’s mushroom industry, centered here in Chester County, accounted for more than half (52 percent) of the national total of $1.095 billion. On top of that, the value of Pennsylvania mushrooms climbed 2.9 percent, while the U.S. total fell 2 percent. And industry insiders expect this growth to continue.
As first a county commissioner and now a state senator, Andy Dinniman has a consistent and unparalleled record of support for the mushroom industry, and agri-business in our region.
His involvement with mushroom growers goes back several decades, to the 1990s when he worked with industry leaders to establish better health care and education programs to meet the needs of Latino mushroom employees and their families in our region. The programs were established through a partnership with the Mexican government, the University of Guanajuato, and West Chester University.
More recently, Dinniman introduced Senate Bill 1125, legislation that calls for expanding and encouraging the use of environmentally friendly pasteurized mushroom compost in pipeline and natural gas drilling reclamation projects. Dinniman’s bill began through efforts that included the Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and industry leaders. As a result of that work, the Joint Legislative Conservation Committee issued a report citing mushroom compost as “a valuable and viable ‘green’ product” for land management issues.
“The goal is to develop approaches that are both environmentally friendly and economically advantageous to our region,” Dinniman said of Senate Bill 1125.
The bill, currently in the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, has eight co-sponsors evenly split between both sides of the aisle.
Dinniman also maintains a close working relationship with the American Mushroom Institute (AMI), which has endorsed Senate Bill 1125. In addition, in recent budget years, Dinniman succeeded in securing vital state support for AMI’s operations and research. Currently, he is also working to secure resources for Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences to continue and expand an important study on pests that negatively impact the mushroom community.
“Mushrooms are part of the economic backbone of southern Chester County and most, if not all, of our mushroom farms are family-owned and operated enterprises,” Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said. “Mushroom farming and related industries mean thousands of jobs and millions in revenue for our region. I have always and will continue to promote policies and back initiatives that keep agriculture growing strong in Chester County.”
Finally, Dinniman reminded residents that September is officially “Mushroom Month” in Pennsylvania and the arrival Labor Day weekend means the 31st Annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square is right around the corner.
The festival (always the weekend after Labor Day) kicks off with the parade on Friday night (September 9) before two full days (September 10 and 11) of family-friendly activities including music, cooking demonstrations, a mushroom eating contest, rides, vendors, and plenty of food.
“The festival has grown into one of the region’s premier events thanks to a community of volunteers, patrons, and industry supporters who work tirelessly to promote the region’s crop and bring thousands of visitors to downtown Kennett Square,” Dinniman said. “And let’s not forget that it’s all for a good cause! The festival raises tens of thousands of dollars for local community nonprofit organizations.”
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Dinniman for Senate
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