HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) — Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau hosted its annual legislative conference. Farmers and officials from around the commonwealth discussed the current state of agriculture and showcased the critical role it plays in Pennsylvania.
In addition to advocating on behalf of Pennsylvania’s 52,000 farms, the PA Farm Bureau also works to promote agriculture through education and highlights the critical role it plays in our lives every day.
“A lot of folks don’t understand where their food comes from and the many hands that it takes to make it possible to travel from farm to their dinner plates,” said Charlene Shupp Espenshade, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation.
The Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation, which is supported by the PA Farm Bureau, provided an interactive display outside the Capitol to connect consumers with the farmers that produce their food.
Shupp Espenshade says their “Farms to Families Immersion Lab” provides an important hands-on learning approach for the next generation.
“If we can start those conversations young where they can learn why it’s so important to eat healthy things, and also connect them to look at purchasing Pennsylvania produce products, it also supports the local farming economy,” said Shupp Espenshade. “The simple fact is children are our future consumers and they will eventually be doing what their parents do, deciding what food choices they’re going to make for themselves,” she added.
The immersion lab featured fun facts about Pennsylvania’s agriculture products, the importance of good nutrition, and even a tractor simulator.
Just down the road from the immersion lab, farmers, officials and lawmakers from across Pennsylvania came together at the Farm Bureau’s annual legislative conference.
“We’re here today to celebrate agriculture, to talk about what those issues are that we have collectively, but also individually, to share that with members of the House and the Senate and to set the stage for this legislative session,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “There’s no shortage of issues,” Redding added.
“Whether it’s overregulation or whether it’s high path avian influenza,” said Governor Josh Shapiro, who joined Secretary Redding this afternoon to discuss his plan and budget proposals for the agriculture sector, like combatting the avian flu.
“We’re ready to put aside any momentary political differences to come together to support our farmers and grow our economy,” said Shapiro. “My administration will stand with Pennsylvania farmers. My administration will help you cut through the red tape, distribute resources, combat challenges like high path avian influenza. Our industry is growing. Our industry is diverse, and it’s expanding rapidly. We need to make sure we keep up with that and we need to make sure we stay ahead of everyone,” Shapiro added.