House adopts Matzie resolutions calling attention to Agent Orange impact, highlighting wine and grape industries

HARRISBURG, Oct.19 – The House this week adopted two resolutions introduced by state Rep. Rob Matzie, including one calling attention to the devastating impacts of Agent Orange on veterans who suffered wartime exposure and a second recognizing the vital contributions of Pennsylvania’s wine and grape industries.

Matzie said he introduced H.R. 223, designating October 2023 as “Agent Orange Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania, to raise awareness about the ongoing and devastating impacts the chemical defoliant has had on the lives of the Vietnam veterans who were exposed.

“Nearly 500,000 Pennsylvanians served during the Vietnam War era, and an estimated 172,000 directly participated in the war,” Matzie said. “Our troops faced the worst conditions imaginable, but there was another enemy they never anticipated, with deadly consequences that manifested only after the war ended.

“Exposure to millions of gallons of Agent Orange and similar chemical herbicides sprayed to remove the dense growth that provided enemy cover caused thousands of veterans to die, while thousands more still suffer from cancer and other disorders. Worse still, many live with the knowledge that genetic damage resulting from their exposure may be handed down through generations.

“When we remember and honor those who served and sacrificed so much in Vietnam, we also need to remember those who continue to feel the impacts of this insidious wartime chemical exposure.”

Matzie introduced H.R. 213, designating October 2023 as “Wine, Wineries and Grapes Month,” to highlight the key role the wine and grape industries play in Pennsylvania, which is the fifth largest producer of wine grapes in the nation.

“More than 330 years ago, William Penn planted a vineyard in what is now Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. Since that time, PA’s wine and grape production has grown into a billion-dollar industry,” Matzie said. “With 280 grape growers farming 14,000 acres, the production of grapes for wines and juices generates approximately $1.5 billion annually and creates nearly 10,000 jobs with a total payroll of $390 million.

“Our wineries attract 2 million visitors annually – bringing an estimated $475 million in yearly tourism dollars – and proudly serve a vast number of wines produced right here in the commonwealth. Together, these industries and the talented workers they employ give us a lot to celebrate.”

Both resolutions were adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support.