Pa. Farm Bureau delegates push for contract legislation

HERSHEY, Pa. – Several hundred farm leaders, including 172 voting delegates, met at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Nov. 13-15 for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 50th annual meeting.


During the annual meeting, the Farm Bureau presented its Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award to state Sen. Noah Wenger, R-36th, of Lancaster County. The award salutes the senator’s leadership in establishing a state farmland preservation program.


PFB also honored Susquehanna County Farm Bureau with the All Star Award. The award was presented for outstanding overall achievements in 19 Farm Bureau program categories.


PFB’s Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award went to Oscar and Marie Sipler of Lititz, Lancaster County. The annual award honors a young farmer or farm couple under 35 who demonstrate excellent business and leadership abilities.


Andrea Semmel of Lehigh County won the discussion meet held during the annual meeting.


Both the achievement award winners and the discussion meet winner received a $500 check from Dodge Truck and will travel to American Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., to take part in national competition in January.


In addition, the Siplers received one-year’s use of a farm tractor from Kubota.


Delegates re-elected Guy Donaldson, Adams County fruit farmer, to a new two-year term as the organization’s president.


Donaldson has headed PFB since 1996 and also serves on the executive committee of the American Farm Bureau Federation.


Delegates also elected four new members to the PFB state board of directors and re-elected four other members, all to two-year terms.


Newly elected to the organization’s leadership are: Arland Schantz of Zionsville, Lehigh County, representing the organization’s District 2 (Bucks, Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton counties); Marlene Reese of Port Matilda, Centre County, District 6 (Centre, Clinton, Lycoming); Jay Witmer of Liverpool, Perry County, District 10 (Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin and Perry); and Leon Kriner of DuBois, Clearfield County, District 12 (Cambria, Clearfield and Indiana).


Re-elected to the PFB state board are: Kent Shelhamer Jr. of Berwick, Columbia County, District 4 (Carbon, Columbia, Luzerne, Schuylkill); Jane Balmer of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, District 8 (Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, York); Harold Curtis of Columbus, Warren County, District 14 (Crawford, Erie, Warren); and Richard Ebert of Blairsville, Westmoreland County, District 16 (Fayette, Greene, Washington, Westmoreland).


Delegates also adopted policies on farm issues. Noteworthy action included adoption of the following recommendations:


* an Agricultural Fair Practices Act for farmers who operate under contract, to require good faith bargaining between grower-controlled cooperatives and processors;* support for a voluntary farm environmental certification program for farmers;


* the establishment of a limited two-day elk hunt in Pennsylvania;


* opposition to the importation of ultra-filtered milk components;


* market wide pooling of all state-mandated over-order premiums for milk produced in Pennsylvania;


* support for the use of biotechnology in the development of new crop options and the encouragement of sufficient research to assure public safety;


* agricultural research and Penn State Extension support for programs and projects to promote the state’s wine and grape industry.


In other action, delegates also reaffirmed the organization’s support for the operation and authority of the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board.

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