By Russell Redding
Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture
It seems only fitting that the same U.S. President who, in 1862, signed into law an act establishing the United States Department of Agriculture is also the same man who, one year later, in 1863, issued a proclamation declaring the last Thursday of November to be “a day of thanksgiving.”
As the son of a farmer, President Abraham Lincoln understood the importance of agriculture and the critical role played by those who work the land to produce the bounties which, in his words, “are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come.” In proclaiming this day of thanksgiving, President Lincoln set the stage for the modern Thanksgiving holiday as we know it — a day that offers us all the opportunity to say thank you to those who nourish and sustain us throughout the year.
And so, it is in that spirt that I offer to you, my friends and colleagues in the agriculture industry, these two simple words: Thank you.
Thank you for your commitment to agriculture, in whatever way you are connected. Thank you for the role that each of you plays in producing the bounties that help to put food on the table three times a day. Thank you for all that you do to ensure that agriculture remains one of this commonwealth’s leading economic enterprises.
As the leaves finish changing, frost blankets the ground, and we wrap up our fall harvest, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the past year’s growing season. And, certainly 2015 has been a bountiful year. While the spring started out perfectly, the early summer record rainfall in many areas of the commonwealth slowed our work. However, those rains helped to produce a wonderful harvest, a season of abundance.
This abundance is a testament to the role that each and every member of this industry contributes not just during the growing season, but 365 days out of the year, to ensure that Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry continues to be one that is strong and thriving.
Of course, farming alone doesn’t put food on the dinner plate. Feeding everyone in Pennsylvania requires work at all steps in the food supply chain — the seed, feed, and equipment professionals, the mills and food processors, the truckers, the grocers, even the policymakers in government.
We all play a role in feeding this great state. And in the process of doing so, we’re able to strengthen our communities throughout the commonwealth.
My appreciation extends not only to our more than 60,000 farm families and everyone who has a role in the agriculture industry, but also to our consumers, who recognize the value of purchasing PA Preferred products — buying agricultural goods grown and made here in Pennsylvania and in turn further strengthening our economy by keeping dollars in Pennsylvania’s communities.
As our industry works to provide these consumers with the nourishment to sustain them, so too does their patronage sustain us and our livelihoods.
Of course, in offering my thanks to you for all that you do day in and day out to support the agriculture industry in Pennsylvania, I would be remiss if I did not also offer my thanks to each of you for the support that you have provided both to me since I returned to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture earlier this year to serve as secretary and to my colleagues throughout this department.
As public servants, it is our duty and responsibility to help ensure the viability of the agriculture industry here in the commonwealth. And, a key part of that role is to ensure that Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry has the workforce it needs to continue to thrive. As a department, we have a responsibility to Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry to invest in it, grow it, and advance its workforce. That includes ensuring that agriculture continues to have access to the human capital needed to sustain this industry for the long-term.
For this too, for the opportunity to help ensure that you have the workforce needed to continue to sustain and nourish our state, I say thank you.
As an individual who is grateful that his vocation and avocation are one, I am also very thankful for the opportunity to help grow an industry that has provided so much to me personally and professionally. And, I know that many of you share that sentiment.
It’s a privilege to work in Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, and to be able to advocate for agriculture and the protection of consumers. I thank each of you for your contributions to a stronger agriculture industry and your part in feeding, clothing, and fueling our world.
I wish you and your family the best in this coming holiday season. Thank you.
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