HERSHEY, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has presented Columbia County farmer and immediate past president Carl Shaffer with its Barnraiser Award to recognize his long history of public service to the agricultural community. The award, PFB’s highest honor, was presented during PFB’s 65th annual meeting, Nov. 16-18, in Hershey.
“This is truly an honor when you consider all the great people who have been recognized with this award,” said Shaffer. “I’m humbled to be part of that group.”
Shaffer, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat on 1,800 acres, served as PFB president for 10 years and vice president for 10 years. He also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors and executive committee. He has been recognized for leadership and achievement on numerous occasions, including being named a Master Farmer in 1996.
Shaffer spearheaded efforts to pass legislation providing a boost in transportation funding to fix deteriorating roads and bridges. He has also been at the center of attention, both nationally and statewide, speaking out against excessive regulations impacting agriculture.
Shaffer, however, cites the enactment of Act 38, also known as ACRE, as his greatest accomplishment as president of the state’s largest farm organization. The law created a process by which the state attorney general’s office would review enacted or proposed local agriculture ordinances to make sure they were in compliance with state law. It also provided the attorney general the discretion to bring legal action against a local government in Commonwealth Court to invalidate the enforcement of an unauthorized local ordinance.
Shaffer becomes only the 13th recipient of the award in the 65-year history of the farm group.
Dave Williams of Wayne County received the Farm Bureau’s 2015 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.
Williams is a vegetable, hay and straw farmer from Honesdale, who served for eight years on the PFB state board of directors. A longtime member of the Wayne/Pike County Farm Bureau, he is also known as the voice of the Pennsylvania Farm Country Radio Network.
Williams has become somewhat of a celebrity in the farming community as host and owner of the Pennsylvania Farm Country Radio Network. His show is broadcast six days a week on 24 radio stations in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey and he is the Northeast reporter for Rural TV, which is affiliated with RFD-TV.
Young farmer award
Scott Rhoads of Somerset County received the farm group’s 2015 Young Farmer Achievement Award. Rhoads, who won the state Discussion Meet in 2012, is a fifth generation farmer, and raises cattle and grows corn, soybeans and hay on 1,200 acres of land that he owns and rents near Stoystown.
Contestants were evaluated on the basis of their farm operation, with emphasis on the farm’s growth and financial progress and the applicant’s leadership within and outside of Farm Bureau. Rhoads has implemented changes on the farm that have increased the weight of the beef cattle he sells from 400 pound to 525 pounds and improved the yields of his crops, ranging from 25 to 50 bushels per acre. He continues to make improvements on the farm, such as building a feeding barn, acquiring additional acreage and putting more cows on pasture.
Runners-up are Lavern and Frances Nolt of Blair County.
Excellence in ag
Tim and Janette Lesher of Northumberland County won the 2015 Excellence in Agriculture Award. Tim and Janette work on a dairy farm in partnership with Tim’s parents in Northumberland County. Tim handles milking and crop growing duties, while Janette works full-time for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service as the district conservationist for Northumberland County.
Tim is the immediate past president of the Northumberland County Farm Bureau, and Janette previously served as the state chairwoman of the Young Farmer and Rancher Committee. The couple has served on the state YF&R committee for nearly a decade.
The other finalists were Corey and Heather Grove of York County.
Schuylkill County farmer Cody Holden of Holden Family Farm won the state discussion meet at PFB’s annual meeting. Holden receives a number of prizes, including an expense paid trip to PFB’s 2016 State YF&R Leadership Conference and a trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in Orlando in January, where he will represent Pennsylvania Farm Bureau in AFBF’s national discussion meet competition.
Juniata County farmer Chris Hoffman was elected vice president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. He has served as vice present over the past year, filling the vacated term of Westmoreland County dairy farmer Rick Ebert, who was elected PFB president during the 2014 annual meeting.
Hoffman, who raises hogs and chickens on his farm near McAlisterville, has served on PFB’s state board of directors for eight years and as a member of the board’s executive committee. He also chairs the Promotion and Education Committee for the American Farm Bureau Federation.
In addition, Hoffman was voted as a new member of the Penn State board of trustees earlier this year.
The Cumberland County Farm Bureau won seven awards, including the “Farm Bureau Proud” award, the highest honor bestowed upon a county Farm Bureau among Pennsylvania’s 54 county Farm Bureaus. Cumberland County Farm Bureau also earned the Overall Achievement Award for county Farm Bureaus with 401 or more farmer members. The award salutes a county Farm Bureau for its outstanding performance in six program areas.
Also in the category of 401 or more farmer members, Bedford County, Butler County and Somerset County farm bureaus all received the County Board Organization award. In addition, Butler County Farm Bureau was recognized for taking second place for the Overall Achievement Award.
In the category of county farm bureaus with 400 or less farmer members, Susquehanna County won six awards. Jefferson County Farm Bureau also received a County Board Organization President’s Award, and Columbia County Farm Bureau earned two awards.
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