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Category Archives: Ag

Planting the Seed: Agriculture Secretary Introduces Future Workforce to Promising Ag Careers at Oregon Dairy Family Farm Days

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Lititz, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding continued the Planting the Seed Tour today at Oregon Dairy’s Family Farm Days, meeting with young people and their parents who came out to explore a working dairy farm and meet the people who care for animals, raise crops, and work in the many careers needed to produce the food, fiber, and fuel that powers our economy.

“Pennsylvania agriculture is a thriving, $135 billion industry, but our workforce is aging,” Sec. Redding said. “We will need young people like those here today to fill the more than 75,000 job openings we anticipate in the next decade. Today is a great opportunity to see firsthand what it takes to make a farm operate, and to meet the farm managers, veterinarians, soil and water conservationists, and others who make life happen on the farm and in the agriculture and food businesses that make our communities and economy strong.”

During the event, Redding talked with children and their parents about the diverse jobs and careers in agriculture, and offered examples of the STEM careers that will be in greater demand in coming years to service and operate increasingly computer-based farm technology, research and develop new methods to produce enough food to feed a rapidly growing world population, and manage limited land and water resources.

In his 2018-19 budget, Governor Wolf proposed PAsmart – a first-of-its-kind workforce development proposal to invest $50 million for STEM and computer science education, support hands-on technical education programs, and encourage employers and schools to work together to help students get the skills employers need. The proposal would invest an additional $10 million in career readiness programs, allowing high school students to earn both a diploma and post-secondary credentials and helping non-traditional students and workers earn post-secondary credits and credentials aligned to in-demand careers.

To learn more about traditional and STEM careers in agriculture and food production, or to read the state’s Agriculture Economic Impact Study, visit agriculture.pa.gov

Wolf Administration Preparing Pennsylvania’s Students for Success through Agricultural Education

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Administration releases ag education report; announces formation of Commission for Ag Education Excellence​

Harrisburg, PA – In recognition of the growing need for a workforce prepared to fill nearly 75,000 job vacancies in the agriculture and food industries over the next decade, the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture (PDA) and Education (PDE) yesterday unveiled their comprehensive agricultural education report for schools across the commonwealth.

“The Wolf Administration believes in prioritizing jobs that pay and schools that teach, and this report represents the intersection of those two priorities,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Ensuring that Pennsylvania’s students have access to high-quality agricultural education programs that foster the skills necessary for success will lay the groundwork for a talented, well-prepared workforce in the years to come.”

The report announcement was accompanied by the creation of a 15-member Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence. The commission will operate under the concurrent authority of PDA and PDE, and is charged with assisting in the development of a statewide plan for agricultural education and coordinating the implementation of related programming with both departments.

“Farming isn’t the only agriculture-related career pathway,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “Other careers include engineering and design, law, finance, environmental planning, and sales – at its heart, agriculture education is STEM education. Promoting agriculture education is an investment in the next generation of leaders of Pennsylvania’s top industry.”

In his 2018-19 budget, Governor Wolf proposed PAsmart – a first-of-its-kind workforce development proposal to invest $50 million for STEM and computer science education, support hands-on technical education programs, and encourage employers and schools to work together to help students get the skills employers need. The proposal provides for an additional $10 million investment in career readiness programs, allowing high school students to earn both a diploma and post-secondary credentials and helping non-traditional students and workers earn post-secondary credits and credentials aligned to in-demand careers.

Agriculture is a $135 billion industry facing an aging workforce. Attrition, growing demand for certain products, and advancing technologies will result in a workforce deficit in a number of career paths over the next decade. Of those anticipated vacancies, the department has identified the 25 most in-demand occupations, which span sectors like production agriculture; animal health and veterinary services; landscaping; food manufacturing, forestry, lumber and wood products; and conservation and natural resources.

Livestock Growers Reminded to Review Revised Standard Animal Weights, Determine Effect on Their Farms

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New weights take effect October 1, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – Revised standard animal weights that take effect in 2019 could reclassify some livestock operations as Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs) or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), requiring those farms to adopt new levels of compliance with nutrient management laws.

Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Management Program regulations include a list of standard animal weights used to calculate whether a livestock operation qualifies as a CAO. The weights are periodically adjusted to reflect trends in contemporary production agriculture. The revised weights, approved in May 2017, take effect on October 1, 2019. They are detailed in Penn State Agronomy Facts sheet 54. Farmers have the option to use other average animal weights instead of the standard weights if there is sufficient documentation to support their use.

“We’re more than a year away from the implementation of the new standard animal weights, but, since developing and improving a nutrient management plan takes time, growers should start planning now to make sure that their farms are in compliance by fall of 2019,” said Redding. “We encourage growers to calculate their farms’ true average animal weights to ensure that nutrient management plans are appropriate for their operations. Otherwise, calculate plans with the new standard animal weights to see how they may affect classifications.”

CAOs are operations that have more than 2,000 pounds of animal weight (Animal Equivalent Units or AEUs) per acre of ground available for manure application. CAFOs are operations that have greater than 1,000 AEUs, or CAOs with greater than 300 AEUs, or an operation that meets a specific head count as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, regardless of the amount of acres available to spread manure.

Operations that become newly classified as CAOs or CAFOs due to the new standard animal weights must have their nutrient management plan approved before October 1, 2019.

Current operations classified as CAOs or CAFOs must amend their nutrient management plans with the new standard animal weights within the three-year lifespan of their nutrient management plan.

“While not all agricultural operations require a nutrient management plan, they’re a good idea, regardless of farm size,” added Redding. “Nutrient management plans promote viable farms and healthy waterways, while providing some protection from liability and helping to demonstrate the agriculture community’s commitment to environmental stewardship.”

More information is available at county conservation districts or with private consultants, and at the Nutrient Management Program (Act 38) website. Visit https://extension.psu.edu/programs/nutrient-management and search either “standard animal weights” or “agronomy facts 54.”

A brochure sponsored by the Pennsylvania Agricultural Ombudsman program that county conservation technicians, and others, will provide to farmers in the course of compliance outreach, is forthcoming.

Last chance to complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture

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Last chance to complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture
Less than two weeks to submit the questionnaire by mail

Watch Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Isua33c6vc

WASHINGTON, D.C. (USDA)– The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is wrapping up data collection for the 2017 Census of Agriculture. To stay on track for data release in February 2019, the deadline for submitting the paper questionnaire is June 15, 2018. Farmers and ranchers who have not responded by June 15, 2018 still have until the end of July to complete the Census online through the secure website found on the cover of their Census form. Phone follow-up and personal interviews will also continue through July.

“The Census of Agriculture provides the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “These data are used to make important local, state, and national decisions that will have a very real impact on farmers, ranchers, ag operations, and rural communities. I encourage producers to respond online or to send in their paper form today.”

The questionnaire needs to be completed by everyone who received a form – including landowners who lease land to producers, those involved in conservation programs, even those who may have received the Census and do not farm. Every response matters.

“Our mission at NASS is to provide data in service to U.S. agriculture,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “We extended the original Census deadline because many producers weren’t counted – and if they aren’t represented in these critical data, they risk being underserved in farm programs, disaster assistance, agricultural research, education, local policies, and business; it is imperative that we hear from everyone.”

Federal law, Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113, requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and to only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture or to respond online, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov. Improved in 2017, the online form is faster and more convenient than ever. For questions about or assistance with filling out the Census, call toll-free (888) 424-7828.

Dog Wardens to Canvass 22 Counties for Current Dog Licenses, Rabies Vaccinations in June

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Harrisburg, PA – The state Department of Agriculture announced today that state dog wardens will conduct dog license and rabies vaccination checks in 22 counties in June. This program aims to raise awareness of the importance of up-to-date dog licenses, and rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats to the health and safety of Pennsylvania communities.

Counties to be canvassed in June include Adams, Beaver, Bedford, Bradford, Cambria, Cameron, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Dauphin, Erie, Fulton, Greene, Juniata, Luzerne, Lycoming, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Potter, Sullivan, and Venango counties. Canvassing began in April and will conclude this month.

June’s canvassing schedule is as follows:

June 4-8: Adams, Cambria, Crawford, Fulton, Juniata, Lycoming, and Pike counties
June 11-15: Beaver, Bedford, Perry, Potter, Northumberland, Sullivan, and Venango counties
June 18-22: Bradford, Cameron, and Greene counties
June 25-29: Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Erie, and Luzerne counties

Pennsylvania law requires all dogs three months and older to be licensed by January 1 of each year. The fee is $6.50 for each spayed or neutered dog and $8.50 for other dogs. Older adults and persons with disabilities may purchase a license for $4.50 for spayed or neutered dogs, and $6.50 for others. Dog licenses are available through county treasurers’ offices.

All dogs and non-feral cats three months of age and older must also be vaccinated against rabies. Booster vaccinations must be administered periodically to maintain lifelong immunity.

Violators may be cited with a maximum fine of $300 per violation plus court costs.

Dog wardens drive vehicles and wear uniforms labeled with “Pennsylvania Dog Law Enforcement Warden” in a keystone with a state seal. They wear a badge and state identification.

Wardens will request proof of licensure and proof of rabies vaccination. They will leave written notice for someone who is not home, or does not answer the door. Dog wardens will not enter a home or building without the owner’s permission.

For more information, visit www.licenseyourdogPA.com, or call 717-787-3062.

PA Ag Secretary Visits Octorara School District During 6th Annual OABEST Expo

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On Saturday, June 2, Secretary Redding visited Chester County for Octorara High School’s 6th Annual OABEST Expo. The event recognizes teachers, students and leadership in the community. It’s a fair that promotes the agriculture industry and work of the students.

 

Image may contain: sky, grass, outdoor and natureImage may contain: 5 people, people smiling, outdoorImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, outdoor

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“It was a great day to visit Octorara High School’s 6th annual OABEST Expo yesterday, to recognize the teachers, students and leadership in the community. It’s a fair that does an amazing job to promote the agriculture industry and work of the students.

Thank you Dr. Newcome, for your engagement with the student body and for your commitment to maximizing students’ opportunities for success. Best wishes for a well-deserved retirement!”

Wolf Administration Joins in Tree Planting Event to Kick Off “Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership” to Improve Water Quality

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 Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today joined in a streamside tree planting event at a farm in Lancaster County to kick off a local, state, and federal partnership to plant 10 million trees to improve water quality in Pennsylvania’s part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, and Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding participated in planting about 100 trees along Little Chiques Creek. They were joined by farm owner Rodney Garber, EPA Region 3 Administrator Cosmo Servidio, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Will Baker, Lancaster County Conservation District Manager Chris Thompson, Future Farmers of America students, and a host of water conservation organizations.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation coordinates the “Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership,” supporting the effort with federal and private funding as well as some of more than $800,000 in state funding provided to the foundation from the DEP Growing Greener Plus and Environmental Education Environmental Justice Grant Programs and the DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program.

The goal is to plant 10 million trees by the end of 2025 to help Pennsylvania make significant progress in reducing nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment levels in streams and rivers.

“We’ve all seen fast-moving uniformly brown water in streams after a rainstorm, and many people have come to take it for normal,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “It’s not. It’s sediment—literally the earth beneath our feet—eroding from banks to damage water quality and aquatic life.

“With 43 counties in the Bay watershed, Pennsylvania faces a great challenge to restore local water quality and help farms, towns, businesses, and residents make changes to prevent further pollution. The only way to meet the challenge is to combine innovative ideas with committed partnerships, as the Keystone 10 Million Trees initiative demonstrates today.”

“When we look at solutions for some of our conservation challenges, such as managing stormwater from very heavy rain events, having clean drinking water, and providing habitat for fish and wildlife, it turns out that trees are the answer,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We are excited to work with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and many other partners on this movement to plant trees along streams and in communities across Pennsylvania.”

“A farm is the perfect place to kick off this initiative,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Prosperous farms and a safe, abundant food supply depend on clean water, and a clean water supply depends on strategic farm management practices like forested buffers. Pennsylvania’s farmers are key to clean water for our region and we are pleased to support them as stewards of our resources.”

While the partnership will plant trees throughout Pennsylvania’s part of the Bay watershed, special emphasis is placed on five southcentral counties, where land is under intensive agricultural use, which collectively put more than 30 million pounds per year of nitrogen pollution into local waters.

Trees will also be planted in parks, on municipal properties, and on private properties. Trees are cost-effective tools to filtering and absorbing polluted runoff, stabilizing streambanks, and improving soil quality.

By the end of April, the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership will plant more than 30,000 trees at over 50 locations.