– Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Samuel E. Hayes Jr. today discussed the downturn in the dairy industry and possible solutions during his remarks as the featured speaker at Rep. Mark Keller’s (R-Perry/Cumberland) 12th annual Farmers’ Breakfast.
Hayes, who also served as a state representative, said a healthy dairy industry is important to maintaining a strong state and national economy.
“Agriculture is a cornerstone of our economy and agriculture is also part of our national defense,” Hayes told the crowd. “A nation that cannot feed itself is a nation at risk. While we may have surpluses today, they could melt away very quickly if we lose our dairy industry, if we lose our agricultural infrastructure. Who is going to feed us? Who are we going to depend upon?”
Hayes pointed to the need for federal trade representatives to be more aggressive in growing the international market for American dairy products. He also blamed the dairy industries problems on an inadequate number of dairy processors, which has resulted in products being shipped out-of-state, and a shrinking labor force.
However, the Commonwealth’s most important industry resource, according to Hayes, is the dairy farmer.
“We cannot afford to lose our dairy infrastructure, our dairy farmer, because when those farms go, and they become something else, malls or whatever they would become, it’s not likely they are going to return in another day as a dairy farm,” he said.
Hayes and one of the other speakers described Keller as being a true friend of agriculture in the Legislature.
“You are lucky to have a guy like Mark as your representative,” said Chris Herr, PennAg Industries Association executive vice president, “It’s a difficult job, but I can tell you from an agricultural perspective, Mark is the absolute best.”
Other speakers included Dave Swartz, Penn State Extension district director, who made a presentation on industry trends, and Eric Finkenbinder, abc27 News meteorologist, whose parents, Paul and Grace, of Duncannon, were presented with a House citation in recognition of the Century Farm Award they received at the 2018 Pennsylvania Farm Show.
Keller also presented a House citation to Stephen Clark Bower of Blain in recognition of the Bicentennial Farm Award his family received at the Farm Show.
“We had another impressive list of speakers this year, and I was especially pleased Sam Hayes was able to be with us and share his thoughts,” said Keller. “More than 230 folks attended, which is our largest crowd yet, and I hope they found the information we presented to be useful as they continue the hard work of keeping Pennsylvania agriculture strong.”
In addition, four groups of FFA members from Big Spring, Greenwood, Newport and West Perry high schools were presented with Keystone Degrees, which are given to members who meet certain requirements of the organization.
The event was held at the Perry Mennonite Reception Center in Elliottsburg, Perry County, and was sponsored by PennAg Industries Association, Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, Seneca Resources and Sunoco Pipeline.
Representative Mark Keller
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs