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Agriculture secretary Redding visits Thiele farm, promotes Shapiro’s farm agenda

William Thiele talks about the milk produced by Thiele Dairy Farm in Jefferson Township, which hosted a dairy legislation promotion Thursday, June 13. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

JEFFERSON TWP — Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, along with other state and local officials, visited the Thiele Dairy Farm in Jefferson Township on Thursday morning, June 13, to promote the agriculture initiatives of Gov. Josh Shapiro.

Meriting much of the discussion was Pennsylvania House Bill 2309, which would offer financial assistance to any farmers looking to enter the federal Dairy Margin Coverage Program — a risk management program which protects dairy producers in the event of unexpected price fluctuations. Shapiro’s budget proposal would set aside $5.6 million for these subsidies.

The state’s House of Representatives passed HB2309 unanimously on Wednesday, June 12, sending it to the state Senate for consideration.

“I'm really excited about the governor's budget and the kind of investment that he is making in our agriculture industry,” said Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-20th, who was the primary sponsor of HB2309. “I'm glad to be just one small piece of that.”

“It's an important piece of legislation,” said state Sen. Elder Vogel, R-47th, chairman of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. “Everybody realizes that the farmers need the chance to have the coverage because price and feed costs vary so greatly.”

Redding touted that Pennsylvania’s margin coverage program subsidies would be “size-neutral” — meaning that smaller and newer farms would not be discouraged from seeking these subsidies.

“We want folks who are currently not participating but should,” Redding said. “And they have a tendency to be a lot of the small farmers.”

“We were happy to see bipartisan support on a bill that would provide our dairy farmers with technical support and to encourage them to take advantage of such a vital risk management program for our dairy farmers,” said Bailey Fisher, federal affairs specialist for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

Also discussed was Gov. Shapiro’s proposed $10.3 million Agriculture Innovation Program. This program would offer grants to farmers and agriculture businesses to implement emerging agriculture technologies that would increase production and efficiency. This program, introduced as House Bill 2310, passed the state House by a 162-39 vote and is now in the hands of the state Senate.

As an example of innovation in agriculture, Redding mentioned how farmers in his home county of Adams County use technology to both protect and count their fruit harvests.

“Innovation is part and parcel of being in the industry,” Redding said. “It’s the hallmark of what we do.”

“We are supportive of that bill to make sure that folks are recognizing that farmers are not stuck in the old days, and that they are wanting and willing to innovate to create a more technological and convenient operation that has a greater output on their farms,” Fisher said.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding speaks at Thiele Dairy Farm in Jefferson Township on Thursday, June 13. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding speaks at Thiele Dairy Farm in Jefferson Township on Thursday, June 13. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
A cow tries to lick the arm of state Sen. Elder Vogel, R-47th. as state Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-20th, speaks at Thiele Dairy Farm in Jefferson Township, which hosted a dairy legislation promotion on Thursday, June 13. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
Butler County Dairy Princess Mercedes Guynup drinks Marburger chocolate milk at Thiele Dairy Farm in Jefferson Township, which hosted a dairy legislation promotion on Thursday, June 13. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
State Rep. Marci Mustello, R-11th, cheers with Marburger chocolate milk as Thiele Dairy Farm in Winfield Township hosts a dairy legislation promotion on Thursday, June 13. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
William Thiele shows officials how he uses a drone to check his crops as Thiele Dairy Farm hosted a state dairy legislation promotion at the farm in Jefferson Township on Thursday, June 13. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle
William Thiele shows officials how he uses a drone to check his crops as Thiele Dairy Farm hosted a state dairy legislation promotion at the farm in Jefferson Township on Thursday, June 13. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

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