When it comes to PA’s farms, the steaks are high
As many of you may know, I have served on the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee of the PA House for eight years. Serving on that committee has allowed me to understand in detail the importance and nuances of our commonwealth’s number one industry. In fact, I’ve ardently pursued this assignment, much to the bafflement of some of my colleagues.
How could Agriculture be more appealing than the Transportation or Judiciary Committees? Well, the opportunity to serve on this committee was for a challenge me, a chance to learn new things and an opportunity to share my experience and expertise as a business owner and CEO of two not-for-profit organizations. The past eight years have not disappointed.
In fact, earlier this year it was my privilege to sponsor a piece of the PA Farm Bill a multi-bill event signed into law in July of this year by Governor Tom Wolf. This bill, a historic first, provides a $23.1 million investment in Pennsylvania agriculture to grow opportunities and resources, remove barriers to entry, and inspire future generations of leaders within agriculture. The PA Farm Bill harnesses the entrepreneurial spirit of those that fuel the commonwealth’s leading industry.
We need to understand this industry and support it to ensure that it remains strong for the benefit of our citizens. It’s concerning that there are fewer farms today, particularly dairy farms, and the average age of our farmers is in the late 50’s.
A Special Show
One novel way citizens can get a glimpse into the depth and breadth of this industry is to attend the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
This event happens annually in January and is the nation’s largest indoor agricultural event. The 2020 show will be the 104th time this event happens. It is held at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. The event will run from Jan. 4-11, with free admission and $15 parking at the Farm Show Complex-operated lots. (The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is easily accessible from interstates 81 and 83.)
The show is the largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof in the nation, with nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits. You can find lots of information on the exhibits and shows at www.farmshowPA.gov
I have had the pleasure of attending almost every year I have been in office and for six of those years I have competed in the celebrity milking contest. And no, I did not know how to milk a cow before I entered the contest, but my ‘secret weapon’ was the fact that the W.B. Saul High School, the ONLY agricultural high school in the commonwealth and one of three in the country, was located in the 194th Legislative District. A member of the faculty, David Ruvaric, was kind enough to give me milking lessons and to subsequently function as my de facto coach. The lessons and coaching paid off, as last year my team won first place!
If you attend, and I urge everyone to consider making the 100-mile trek west to the PA Farm Show, you should wear very good walking shoes, bring your appetite and be prepared to learn more than you could ever imagine about agriculture in PA. In fact, if you attend on certain days, you will even find the students from Saul showing their animals and hoping to win prizes.
I encourage everyone to come to Harrisburg in January for a first-hand experience of the industry that is a lifestyle for so many; come and imagine the opportunities. I will be there on Friday, January 10th, the day of the Celebrity Milking Contest which takes place at 2:30. See you in the Equine Arena!
Thoughts? Suggestions? Concerns? Make your voice heard by visiting my office at 6511 Ridge Avenue or calling (215) 482-8726. Walk-ins always welcome.