When most people think of the Pennsylvania Farm Show they think of baked potatoes, milkshakes, tractors and checking out the livestock exhibits. However, there is another crop on hand, public officials.
While the state secretary of agriculture is a common sight to see along with the governor, countless state and federal legislators will take to the show to tout their love of Pennsylvania agriculture. From the unveiling of the butter sculpture to the final supreme champion selection, these officials will be parading through. This year's show will host several "celebrity" events these legislators can show off their farming skills. Media updates and listening sessions will also be scheduled.
So, what does that mean for Pennsylvania farmers? Well, it is no secret that the state's agriculture budget has taken a beating the past few years in response to reduced state tax receipts. Some farmers have said that agriculture has been treated unfairly in the mix because they believe that the ag budget has taken larger hits than other areas of the state budget.
Farm Show can provide that backdrop for farmers to tell legislators and policy makers their thoughts on pending agriculture legislation. And with the governor's budget address only a few short weeks after the show, farmers can begin to sow the seeds on what they believe needs to be in that budget.
With leadership changes in the state house and senate, many of these leaders will be looking to hear what issues should be on their agriculture priority list.
So, as we head into the 2011 edition of the show, the Lancaster Farming staff will be curious to see what themes develop as the new legislative session and administrations begin.
— Charlene Shupp Espenshade, Special Sections Editor