– Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding today told attendees of Rep. Mark Keller’s (R-Perry/Cumberland) 13th Annual Farmers’ Breakfast that significant challenges lie ahead for the state’s agriculture industry, but he remains excited about the future.
During his remarks, Redding cited the dairy crisis, Spotted Lanternfly, broadband access and workforce development as key agricultural issues in the Commonwealth. He discussed the recently unveiled PA Farm Bill, which would invest more than $24 million to bolster infrastructure, expand resources and cultivate future generations of agriculture leaders.
“The Farm Bill is historic. We’ve never had a Farm Bill in Pennsylvania,” Redding told the crowd. “The governor was very engaging and thoughtful in asking – what does the industry need? It addresses workforce needs and infrastructure needs, but it also is keeping our eye on the evolving industries, like industrial hemp.”
Information about a challenge that may soon face Pennsylvania’s pork producers was presented by another speaker. Dave Swartz, Penn State Extension assistant director of animal systems programs, outlined the serious threat posed by African swine fever, which has killed tens of millions of pigs in China, Russia and Eastern Europe. It has yet to appear in the United States.
“Security at our ports of entry to America is really a key factor in trying to keep this off of our shores,” said Swartz.
Other speakers included Carol Hardbarger, Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board member and Kristie Smith, Perry County Conservation District watershed specialist.
PennAg Industries Association was one of the breakfast sponsors.
“Representative Keller is one of a few people in the Legislature who come from an agricultural background,” said Chris Herr, PennAg executive vice president. “We are fortunate to have him.”
“We had another impressive list of speakers this year, and I was especially pleased Secretary Redding was able to take time out of his busy schedule to join us,” said Keller. “I hope those in attendance found the information our speakers presented to be useful.”
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 breakfast was held at the Perry Mennonite Reception Center in Elliottsburg, Perry County, and attracted 240 people, which was the largest crowd in the event’s 13-year history.
Other sponsors included Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, Seneca Resources, Sunoco Pipeline and Versant Strategies.
|Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding was the featured speaker at Rep. Mark Keller’s annual Farmers’ Breakfast in Elliottsburg.
|State Rep. Mark Keller welcomes the crowd to his 13th Annual Farmers’ Breakfast in Elliottsburg.
Representative Mark Keller
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs