Manheim-area legislators host annual Farmers’ Breakfast

By on November 16, 2016
(Left to right) Christopher Thompson, district manager of the Lancaster County Conservation District; 2016 Farm Show Queen and Manheim FFA president Stephanie Balmer; state Senator Ryan Aument; state Rep. Mindy Fee; and David Swartz, district director of Penn State Extension, at the Farmers’ Breakfast.

(Left to right) Christopher Thompson, district manager of the Lancaster County Conservation District; 2016 Farm Show Queen
and Manheim FFA president Stephanie Balmer; state Senator Ryan Aument; state Rep. Mindy Fee; and David Swartz, district director of Penn State Extension, at the Farmers’ Breakfast.

 

Nearly 100 people involved in agriculture turned out to hear speakers and exchange ideas during the third annual Farmers’ Breakfast. Hosted by state Rep. Mindy Fee and state Sen. Ryan Aument, the event was held Thursday, Nov. 10, at Enck’s Banquet and Conference Center, Manheim.

“This event has grown steadily over the past three years,” Aument remarked.

Fee, who has served two terms on the state House’s agricultural and rural affairs committee, said that agriculture is the number one industry in the state, and in Lancaster County. During the breakfast Fee was honored for her service to the industry by the Manheim FFA.

About 20 FFA members from both Manheim Central High School and Lancaster County Career and Technology Center attended the event.

“Students are the future of agriculture. It’s important for them to hear from people in the industry about what’s going on right now,” said Deb Seibert, one of the instructors of Manheim Central High School’s ag ed program.

During a presentation about the school’s ag ed program, she said that Manheim Central’s program is proactive and keeps up with changes in the industry.

“The ag curriculum today is not your father’s cow and plow program,” said Seibert.

There are 20 different ag courses offered at the school, and every freshman is required to take environment ecology engineering, a course taught in conjunction with the tech ed department. Seibert pointed out that for the last three years every FFA student at Manheim Central has been required to have a manure management plan for their animal project.

“It’s something that farmers in the real world must have, so we want to make sure our students follow those same rules. We want to prepare them for careers in the industry,” she said.

Guest speakers were David Swartz, district director of Penn State Extension, and Christopher Thompson, district manager of the Lancaster County Conservation District. Swartz discussed production and pricing of commodities such as corn, soybean and wheat as well as the market for exporting and importing these commodities as well as dairy, beef and hogs. With regard to imports and exports, he explained that the expanded Panama Canal, which opened in June, will play a role in increasing agricultural export traffic at east coast ports such as Norfolk and Philadelphia.

Thompson provided insight into the ag industry in the county. He said that the county is comprised of 606,000-acres, and 68 percent of that land is farmed. There are 5,500 farms in the county, and nearly all (98 percent) are family owned. There are also 1,400 miles of streams in the county.

“The soil and water combine to help make the county so successful in agriculture,” he said.

It’s also the reason that the county plays a big role in the 2016 reboot of the state’s Chesapeake Bay strategy. Thompson pointed out that stream fencing, which limits animals’ access to streams to specific points, is a cost-effective way to help stop erosion and promote cleaner streams.

“Lancaster County is looked at as a leader in the ag industry statewide; we want to be good environmental stewards and leave a legacy of productive farmland and clean streams,” Swartz said, “What we do here will be felt downstream.”

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *