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Daily Archives: January 2, 2019

Your Guide to the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show

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Governor Wolf to Help Unveil 2019 Farm Show Butter Sculpture
Tomorrow, Governor Wolf will join Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and dairy industry leaders to unveil the 2019 Farm Show Butter Sculpture at the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show at 11 a.m.

Agriculture Department to Showcase Pennsylvania Technology Innovation Start-ups During 2019 Farm Show
During the 2019 Farm Show, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced the department will showcase six Pennsylvania-based companies that offer technology innovations to advance the agriculture industry. Featured technologies will include crop-monitoring drones; implantable health trackers for livestock; sensory robotics for greenhouse production; potting soil made from recyclable materials; facility and animal monitoring systems; and systems to treat pollution, manage nutrients, and produce sustainable fertilizer. More…

Other info
The official Farm Show website is your best source of info. The annual visitor’s guide includes a schedule of the PA Preferred® Culinary Connection on the back page, with chefs from around the state, as well as others doing demos (also attached). Your friends and colleagues can subscribe to this newsletter here.

You might also check our Farm Show social media accounts:

A number of associations include info about their members’ involvement in Farm Show on their websites and social media. The PA Winery Association’s Farm Show pages are just one example – they have featured wineries daily.

Visit PA also has a Farm Show page, as does PA Trips By Train, and the Hershey-Harrisburg Visitor’s Bureau has a dedicated page. There are lots of resources out there.

And in case you missed them, a few previously-issued releases:

PA Department of Agriculture Reveals 2019 Farm Show Theme: Inspiring Pennsylvania’s Story
The 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show will honor agriculture’s rich heritage and promising future with this year’s theme, Inspiring Pennsylvania’s Story. The theme, which will be represented throughout of the weeklong event, will include related events like a daily story time for children, interviews with real Pennsylvanians working in agriculture, and opportunities for attendees to engage and tell their own stories. More…

Farm Show Announces Winners of ‘Oh, Say, Can You Sing?’
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced the winners of “Oh, Say, Can You Sing?”, a star-spangled sing-off on Facebook that puts talented Pennsylvanians center stage during the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show. Each morning of the Farm Show will feature a talented Pennsylvanian singing the national anthem live, chosen by the Farm Show’s Facebook fans. More…

Department of Agriculture, GIANT Announce Multi-Year Farm Show Sponsorship Agreement
Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding joined Nicholas Bertram, president of GIANT Food Stores to announce that the Department of Agriculture and GIANT have entered into a multi-year sponsorship agreement at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. More…

See you at the PA Farm Show!

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the nation’s largest indoor agricultural event, featuring 12,000 competitive exhibits, more than 5,200 of which are animal competitions, plus 300 commercial exhibitors. The show runs January 5 – 12, 2019. Admission is free and parking is $15 in Farm Show lots. The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is easily accessible from Interstates 81 and 83.


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COCHRANVILLE, PA ( WLRI )  Keystone Valley Fire Department along with Cochranville Fire Company and Christiana Fire Company are responding to a head on accident along HONEYCROFT BLVD  in the area of Gap-Newport Pike. Further information will be provided as it becomes available. Crews advise motorist that the road will be closed for hours this evening.


Education Advocates: Ending School Discipline Guidance Won’t Improve Safety

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By: Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA – Education advocates are condemning a Federal Commission on School Safety report that recommends ending Obama-era policies against discriminatory discipline practices in schools.

Studies have shown that black and brown students are punished more frequently and more harshly than are their white peers for similar or lesser infractions.

According to Raynelle Brown Staley, policy director at the Education Law Center, ending the policies won’t change the law – discrimination based on race, disability or identity will still be illegal – but if the change goes into effect, it will have an impact.

“We think it’s going to invite discrimination to occur,” she said, “because the Department of Education has shown their unwillingness to protect the civil rights of students across our country.”

The anti-discrimination policies only served as guidance, but their critics have claimed they have hampered teachers’ ability to discipline students and compromised school safety.

The recommendation to rescind the discipline policies is, in part, a reaction to mass school shootings such as the one in Parkland, Fla. However, Staley said, efforts to end racial disparities in educational discipline are a totally separate issue.

“There’s no correlation between the implementation of restorative justice and other strategies as alternatives to school discipline and the mass shootings that prompted the School Safety Commission report,” she said.

She noted that Pennsylvania school districts that have implemented policies to limit suspensions and expulsions have seen school climates improve.

Staley said Pennsylvania’s Department of Education has stated that it maintains a commitment to examining issues of discrimination, in suspension and other forms of school discipline.

“So, we feel confident that the Pennsylvania Department of Education will continue to uphold the civil rights of students across the state,” she said.

Staley added that the School Safety Commission report also recommends that school districts consider arming school personnel, a policy many believe would severely compromise school safety.

The School Safety Commission report is online at

Criminal Justice Reform a Major Issue for People with Disabilities

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, PA. – The criminal justice reform bill making its way through Congress will help thousands of people with disabilities re-enter their communities.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 32 percent of people in federal prisons and 40 percent of all people in jail in the United States have at least one disability.

The First Step Act passed by the Senate on Tuesday would expand job training and early release programs, and reduce minimum mandatory sentences for nonviolent offenders incarcerated in federal prisons.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the group RespectAbility, says those reforms will help thousands of people with disabilities successfully leave incarceration.

“It means they’ll be able to go back into the community and hopefully get a job, have their talents used in the community and to have a better future,” she states.

Leadership in the House says it will pass the bill this week and President Donald Trump has said he will sign it into law.

Although the First Step Act only would apply to the 180,000 people in federal prisons, Mizrahi points out that the overwhelming support the bill has received from both sides of the aisle in Washington could help spur criminal justice reforms at all levels of government.

“While this one bill is certainly no panacea for all the different issues, it gives us a platform where people at the state, local or federal level can problem solve together in a bipartisan manner,” she states.

There are more than 2 million people in prisons and jails in the United States, including more than 750,000 with disabilities.

Mizrahi notes that further reforms are needed to reduce the number of people being incarcerated.

She says underfunded schools, predominantly attended by children of color, often lack the resources to diagnose and teach those with learning disorders or other disabilities.

“Then they get really behind in their work, and then they’re so far behind that they drop out or they’re expelled,”
she points out. “This is what leads people into the school-to-prison pipeline in the first place.”

Only 61 percent of youths with disabilities graduate from high school, compared with 81 percent of those without disabilities.

Proposed SNAP Rules: An “End Run around Congress?”

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – After failing to get deep cuts to nutrition assistance through Congress, President Donald Trump wants to get them by changing the rules.

Trump had backed a Republican plan that critics warned would have ended SNAP or food-stamp benefits for two million Americans and school meal access for 265,000 children.

Congress rejected those changes when it passed the Farm Bill last week. So on Thursday, Trump proposed new rules restricting states’ ability to provide SNAP benefits to childless adults living in high-unemployment areas who are struggling to find work.

Rebecca Vallas, vice-president of the poverty team at the Center for American Progress, says the rules would force hundreds of thousands of unemployed SNAP participants to lose the help they need to put food on the table.

“Ultimately, he failed to gut food stamps in the Farm Bill and so now, he’s sidestepping Congress and trying unilaterally to slash food assistance by fiat,” says Vallas. “And he’s doing that just days before Christmas.”

The administration points out that unemployment is at record low levels and says the new rules would save $15 billion over ten years.

Vallas insists a better approach would be to raise the federal minimum wage, set at $7.25 an hour for the past ten years. She says raising it to just $12 an hour would make a huge difference.

“That would save $53 billion in nutrition assistance over the coming decade, and it would do so by ensuring that workers earn enough to afford food,” says Vallas.

The administration’s own numbers show that under the proposed rule change, more than 750,000 unemployed people would lose SNAP benefits.

Vallas adds research has shown that taking food away from workers who can’t meet strict work-reporting requirements is counterproductive.

“When workers have access to basics like food and housing and health care, they’re better able to work and they have higher earnings,” says Vallas.

Once the rules are published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60 day period for public comment before they could be put into effect.

For Those with Criminal Records, New Year Can Bring Clean Slate

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Many Pennsylvanians with old criminal records are now eligible to have those records sealed.

The first phase of the state’s Clean Slate Act went into effect the day after Christmas. That means people convicted of second-degree simple assault and some first-degree misdemeanors, and who’ve had no other convictions for at least ten years, can apply to have their records sealed.

Elizabeth Randol, legislative director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, says that will bring welcome relief to thousands who may have been blocked from jobs, housing, even some loans, for a mistake made years ago.

“It does not come up on any criminal record background check or searches, and you are also not obligated to check the box that says, ‘Have you ever been convicted?’ So, you are under no obligation to check ‘yes’ if your record has been sealed,” says Randol.

Sealed records will still be seen in federal background checks.

The second phase of the law, automatically sealing some low-level criminal records, will begin on June 28. Randol notes that feature of the law makes it unique.

“No other state has this type of automatic procedure that, after a certain period of time, without any additional charges on your record, it will automatically seal those records,” says Randol.

Offenses now eligible for sealing include driving while intoxicated and some theft and drug crimes.

Randol adds there is more that can be done, such as adding additional eligible offenses, but she thinks the Clean Slate law is a step in the right direction.

“Hopefully the legislators, once they get any of the kinks worked out in it, will look at trying to reduce the period of time one needs to wait before those records are sealed,” says Randol.

More information about the Clean Slate Act is available through Community Legal Services of Philadelphia at ‘’