SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — The clock shows it is only about half past noon. Pennsylvania State Sen. Elder Vogel, however, has already milked his cattle, spread manure and spent most of the morning touring a dairy farm in Slippery Rock listening to dairy producers.
Some would call this a full day’s work but for Vogel, it’s just part of his routine now.
Vogel is a fourth-generation dairy farmer, operating the family farm that was established in New Sewickley Township in the late 1800s. But as of last November’s election, Vogel also spends his time in Harrisburg, representing the 47th Senatorial District, which includes portions of Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.
He serves on the local government committee and is a member of the agriculture and rural affairs committee.
Vogel said his experience running his family’s dairy farm helps him at the state level in two ways.
His strong work ethic is needed to get things done and his experience as a business person helps him establish what his constituents need in a budget and what can be cut.
“You only have so much money to spend and you have to live within your own means,” Vogel said.
Vogel is proud to say he is the only farmer serving in the state senate at this time. And he often gets called on by senate members and state representatives for his knowledge. Instead of getting a lobbyist’s point of view of what is happening in farming, they are getting their education from a farmer with firsthand knowledge.
“It gives me a chance to spread the message about farming. ” Vogel added.
The one issue close to Vogel’s heart is the milk prices. He said he is afraid of some of the statistics he is hearing and how many dairy farms may be lost by the end of the year if milk prices don’t rebound.
“They are forcing farmers out. Some have no control of the matter. The bad part is once they are gone, they are gone,” Vogel said.
Vogel added that many farmers are aging and the younger ones are the most cash-strapped, feeling the brunt of the economic downturn.
“We are losing our future in a round-about way,” Vogel said.
His advice to young farmers who are struggling with low milk prices or low grain prices is pretty simple — position yourself so you can take advantage of the economic turn-around when it does occur.
“Do what you can now. Control your costs. It will end! The prediction is that milk prices will rebound,” the state senator said.
Currently, Vogel is working with other state legislators on the next state budget.