John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
January 7, 2024
HARRISBURG — As snow flurries began to fall from the sky, lawmakers and leaders in the agriculture community stood side-by-side on Saturday morning to celebrate the importance of agriculture in the Keystone State at the opening ceremony for the 108th Pennsylvania Farm Show.
“Is this quintessential Pennsylvania or what,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks). Schwank is the Minority Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural expo in the nation, which features nearly 6,000 animals, 12,000-plus competitive events and exhibits, nearly 250 commercial exhibits, and hundreds of educational and entertaining events.
Taking the podium on Saturday morning, U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-15th District), chair of the U.S. House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said there’s nothing like the Farm Show.
“As I prepare for the 2024 Farm Bill, I’ve had the opportunity to visit well more than three quarters of the states in this great country, and spend time in farmland,” Thompson said. “And, you know, this farm show really is the envy of the nation.” Thompson plays a key role in crafting the Farm Bill, a must-pass piece of legislation that Congress did not actually finish work on last year.
“This is a showcase of Pennsylvania’s number one industry, really America’s number one industry,” Thompson added.
In November, President Joe Biden signed an extension of the 2018 Farm Bill, which was set to expire in 2023, that allows authorized programs to continue through Sept. 30
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey told the Capital-Star that he thinks a Farm Bill will be passed by the end of the year. He said his three priorities with the Farm Bill are investing in farmers and food banks to combat hunger, supporting farmers conservation efforts, and strengthening the U.S.’s agricultural market on the global stage.
Along with Casey, and Thompson, U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser (R-9th District) and Scott Perry (R-10th District) participated in a listening session about the national farm bill on Saturday afternoon.
Lt. Gov. Austin Davis touted the investment in agriculture made by Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration in its first budget.
“In our most recent budget, we allocated $31 million to continue to battle high path avian influenza, funding to create new centers for plant excellence and Organic Excellence, and investments in workforce growth opportunities at career and technology centers all across our great Commonwealth,” Davis said during a speech at the opening ceremony.
According to Pa.gov, the agricultural industry supports 593,000 jobs and contributes $132.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy every year.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding said he believes the industry will continue to be a critical part of the future of the Keystone State.
“I’m more excited today about what Pennsylvania agriculture looks like than I’ve ever been in my life,” Redding said.
The 2024 Pennsylvania Farm Show will run through Saturday, Jan 13 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission to the Pennsylvania Farm show is free, although parking is $15 per vehicle.
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