HERSHEY, Pa. — Richard Pallman of Lackawanna County received the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 2013 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award during the farm organization’s 63rd annual meeting in Hershey.
Pallman grew up on a turkey farm in Clarks Summit. After earning a bachelor of science degree in agronomy at Penn State University, he returned home, where he and his two brothers operated a successful fresh market tomato business for several decades until 1999.
Meanwhile, Pallman was heavily involved in Farm Bureau, serving as president of the Wyoming/Lackawanna County Farm Bureau from 1980 to 1986, and as a member of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s state board of directors for eight years.
He also represented Pennsylvania as chairman of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s National Labor Advisory Committee.
Pallman also served on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association for 18 years and was its president from 1995-1998.
In 2001, Pallman accepted a nomination as the state executive director of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. During his eight years at FSA in Harrisburg, Pallman implemented numerous changes, including the streamlining of offices across the state.
Cumberland County farmer Richard Mains received the organization’s Distinguished Local Affairs Leader Award.
“Maybe it should have been given to my wife Shelva, who has been at my side and part of our farm operation all of my life,” Mains said in accepting the award. “Everything we’ve done, we’ve done together.”
Mains grows corn, soybeans, wheat and other grains in partnership with his son Richard Jr.
The award recognizes an individual county Farm Bureau leader whose local affairs efforts help solve problems and improve rural living for county Farm Bureau members.
“Despite the challenges involved in farming, he has taken time to get involved with youngsters through FFA,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer. “His work in promoting our Ag Science Labs is unparalleled.”
Mains is a past president of the Cumberland County Farm Bureau.
“Although many people thought it couldn’t be done,” Mains said of the mobile ag lab fundraising efforts, “the four counties I oversaw as a member of the state board of directors raised nearly $50,000 over a six-month period, which helped make it possible to buy the first Ag Lab.”
“It’s the best project I’ve ever been involved in and even though we now have six Ag Labs covering the entire state, I really think we can do more.”
Hundreds of farmers from across the state attended the annual meeting to set policy for the statewide organization on issues affecting farm and rural families.
President Carl T. Shaffer urged lawmakers to act on several key state and federal issues, including the state transportation funding, federal farm bill and immigration reform.
“What are lawmakers waiting for? It’s time to act on these issues, which not only affect farmers, but families across America as well,” Shaffer said.
He noted that the lack of progress on these issues has negatively impacted the viability of family farmers.
“During the fall harvest, farmers were forced to take longer routes to deliver commodities, such as corn and soybeans, due to weight restrictions placed on aging bridges. This increased fuel and labor costs for farmers and increased their time away from the farm,” said Shaffer.
“In addition, orchard growers saw perfectly good apples and peaches fall to the ground, because they didn’t have an adequate labor force to harvest their crops.”
Farmers are also interested in learning about specific requirements that will be included in new food safety regulations to be finalized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“We embrace the opportunity to make changes to improve food safety, but we are also wary of the possible implementation of costly and time consuming requirements that do little or nothing to improve food safety,” said Shaffer.
Young farmer award
Tommy and Tracy Nagle of Cambria County won the 2013 Young Farmer Achievement Award.
The contestants were evaluated by a panel of judges on the basis of their farm operation, with emphasis on the farm’s growth and financial progress and the applicant’s record of leadership within and outside of Farm Bureau.
Tommy and Tracy own Nagle Ranch in Patton, Cambria County, where they manage a 170-head beef cattle operation and grow 650 acres of grains, including corn, soybeans, barley and hay.
While working several full-time jobs after graduating college, including six years as director of purchasing for a poultry company, Nagle also worked on building his farm, eventually becoming a full-time farmer in 2010.
The Nagles, who have two young children, say they would like to expand the farm to 3,000 acres and 250 brood cows in the future, while continuing to improve cattle quality. Tommy Nagle has served as vice president of the Cambria County Farm Bureau and has also chaired its policy development committee.
Western Pa. finalist
This year’s other YF&R Achievement Award finalist was Loren and Jodi Elder of Lawrence County.
The Elders operate a grass-fed beef farm, using rotational grazing, with a focus on improving soil quality. The number of cattle on the farm has grown to more than 100, from less than 30 in 2003.
In addition, the farm has increased its overall acreage from 170 acres of harvested grains in 2003 to more than 500 acres this year.
The Nagles will compete for national honors in January at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th annual meeting in San Antonio.
A Northumberland County dairy farmer won the Young Farmer Discussion Meet .
Tim Lesher, who serves as president of the Northumberland County Farm Bureau, was selected the winner.
“It is an honor and I strongly believe young farmers need to take an active voice in agriculture,” said Lesher, who is a second generation dairy farmer, milking 80 cows.
The other finalists were Allison Beichner of Lancaster County, Emily Meyers of Franklin County and Joshua Werning of York County.
Lesher will represent Pennsylvania Farm Bureau in AFBF’s national discussion meet competition..
Julia Reyburn of Oxford, Chester County, won the Young Farmer Social Media Video Contest.
“The message I wanted to show was the new innovation in farming,” said Julia Reyburn, who grew up on her family’s farm in Chester County.
Judges based their decision for selecting the winning video on how well it promoted modern agricultural practices in a positive manner to consumer audiences of diverse backgrounds.
The other video contest finalist was Ethan Snyder of Northumberland County.
Top county awards
The Susquehanna County Farm Bureau won four awards, including the prestigious Farm Bureau “Lock in Your Future” Award. The award is the highest honor bestowed upon a county Farm Bureau among Pennsylvania’s 54 county Farm Bureaus.
Susquehanna County was also recognized for earning the Overall Achievement Award for county Farm Bureaus with up to 400 farmer members.
Susquehanna County won President’s Awards in the areas of Policy Development and Implementation and County Board Organization.
The York County Farm Bureau was recognized with the Overall Achievement Award for county Farm Bureaus with more than 400 farmer members.
York County also received the President’s Award in the area of Policy Development and Implementation.
The Cumberland County Farm Bureau won the second place award for Overall Achievement in the more than 400 member program area and also received the President’s Award for Outreach and Education.
Winning the President’s Award for Outreach and Education in the 400 or fewer member area was the Clearfield County Farm Bureau.
The second place award for Overall Achievement in the category of less than 400 members went to Northumberland County Farm Bureau, which also received the President’s Award for Leadership Development.
The President’s Award for Leadership Development in the above 400 member category was presented to the Chester-Delaware County Farm Bureau.
Under the category of Media Relations and Member Communications, the Wayne-Pike County Farm Bureau took the award in the over 400 member section, while Snyder County Farm Bureau earned that distinction in the under 400 area.
The President’s Award for Services went to the Wyoming-Lackawanna County Farm Bureau in the above 400 member division, while the Bedford County Farm Bureau won in the 400 or less member area.
Franklin County Farm Bureau took top honors in the above 400 member category for the President’s Award for County Board Organization, while the Blair County Farm Bureau and the Cambria County Farm Bureau finished in a three way tie with the Susquehanna Farm Bureau for the 400 and under member category for the President’s Award for County Board Organization.