U.S. Representative Glenn "GT' Thompson (PA-5), Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy & Forestry, and Carl T. Shaffer, President of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, this week hosted a "Barnyard Discussion" on agriculture policy during Penn State University's (PSU) Ag Progress Days, which took place at the Red Barn within PSU's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center.
"This is an important event that brings together folks in the agriculture community from across the Commonwealth and the country, which allows us to exchange ideas and communicate the latest developments in agriculture policy," stated Rep. Thompson. "This is an ideal venue to hear directly from family farmers on the challenges they are facing, but also learn from the many industry specialists that have traveled to Penn State's Ag. Progress Days and are working on the latest technologies in production agriculture and related industries. I want to thank Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Carl Shaffer for his continued leadership on behalf of Pennsylvania farmers, and Penn State University for their leadership in agriculture research and affording us the opportunity to host this discussion."
Thompson outlined work in Congress to reauthorize the current Farm Bill, including a two-year series of audit hearings held by his subcommittee and 6 others under the jurisdiction of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, before drafting new federal agriculture legislation. The House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the bill, H.R. 6083, on July 12, 2012, and the full Senate passed its version, S. 3240, on June 21, 2012. The current Farm Bill expires in September, 2012.
"Pennsylvania farm families play a vital role in contributing to the prosperity of rural communities and the state's economy. The survival of farm families is critical as one in seven jobs in Pennsylvania is related to agriculture, while farmers spend the majority of their income in local communities," Carl T. Shaffer stated. "We appreciate the leadership role Congressman Thompson has taken in focusing on important federal policies that impact the day-to-day operations of farms. Decisions made in Washington, whether they focus on the Farm Bill or proposed regulations, can strengthen the long-term viability of farm families or devastate their future, depending on the outcome."
Dr. Bruce McPheron, Dean, Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences, and George Greig, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, also participated in the discussion. Dean McPheron took the opportunity to highlight the importance of the nation's land-grant universities, which have enabled "technological advances" through expanded research and education programs, and "a food production system that's the envy of the world." Secretary Greig expressed appreciation for Thompson's leadership representing agricultural issues on behalf of the entire state in the U.S. House.
The "Barnyard Discussion" is in its 4th consecutive year as part of Penn State's Ag. Progress Days, which is the Commonwealth's largest outdoor agricultural exposition.