Today’s Ag Organizers Hope to Expand Their Message

12/29/2012 7:00 AM
By Chris Torres Staff Writer

Although the Today’s Agriculture display at the 2012 Farm Show “opened the doors” of farming to the general public, its organizers hope to expand their message at the 2013 show, focusing more on the environment and how farmers are impacting it.

“Last year, we focused very narrowly on the message. We’re expanding out this year,” said Chris Herr, executive vice president of PennAg Industries, one of the organizations spearheading the roughly 10,000-square-foot exhibit inside the Weis Markets Exhibition Hall at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

This year’s display, which has been under construction since the beginning of December, still includes a barn and animals in their modern living conditions.

But there will also be several additions to the display, including a 35-foot-tall harvester silo, a larger area to show the various growth stages of corn and soybeans, more equipment that will include a self-propelled sprayer and implements with GPS technology, and a display showing how farmers use solar power.

This year’s Today’s Agriculture display will be unveiled to invited guests on Wednesday, and the public will get to see it when the 2013 Farm Show opens next Saturday.

“We’re still telling the story of the farm to the general public, but in a way showcasing the value of equipment, the value of seed, the technology and how far it’s come. So, really trying to show the technology of ag and trying to tell a little broader story,” Herr said.

The 84-foot-long by 42-foot-wide barn is still the centerpiece of the display, although organizers have made some changes to its setup.

Crops will be displayed in front of the barn, which Herr said will provide a better entry point to the barn itself.

Most of the corn and soybeans were grown this summer at the Penn State research farm in Landisville, Lancaster County. They were harvested and placed in cold storage in October.

Inside the barn, visitors will see dairy cows, calves, veal calves and feeder steers on one side, while the other animals, including a sow and litter, nursery pigs, market hogs, broiler chickens, layer hens and turkeys will be on the opposite side.

Wenger Feeds has formulated a pig feed that will result in a less pungent manure odor, Herr said.

Several farmers and businesses have donated animals for the display. Country View Family Farms is providing the pigs, while the Pennsylvania Beef Council and the Center for Dairy Excellence worked with several farmers to furnish the cows, calves and feeder steers.

Marcho Farms of Franconia will provide the veal calves. Farmer George Georges from Elizabethtown will provide the layer hens, and Tyson the broiler chickens.

Around 120 organizations, ranging from agribusinesses to several colleges and universities, are lending at least some support to the display, whether it be helping to build it, providing volunteers or donating money.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance are among the newest organizations lending their support to this year’s display.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, will deliver the keynote address at the formal unveiling.

Last year’s display walked away with the judge’s choice award in the agriculture division at the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions convention in Las Vegas.

Herr said that while he was honored to get the award, it was also proof that the 2012 display had been a success.

“It means a lot and I think credit goes to the pork producers, initially, and the egg producers who were willing to take a little bit of crap from national organizations that didn’t think it was a good idea to get out there with cages and other things to educate the public,” he said. “Honestly, there is a lot of satisfaction in it.”

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