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Over the past year, Team PA has been working with the Department of Agriculture to cultivate a new partnership, similar to our existing partnerships with the Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED), the Department of Education (PDE) and the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I). In May 2016, we agreed on the basics of a Memorandum of Understanding with Team Pennsylvania to support efforts to improve the economic competitiveness of the state’s agriculture and agribusiness industries. In recognition of the importance of agriculture to our commonwealth’s economy, Secretary Russell Redding joined Team PA’s Board of Directors. The mission of this collaborative, industry-led partnership is to build capacity to support PA’s agriculture economic development efforts and ensure PA remains competitive in the agriculture markets. A critical first step to chart the course of this partnership is the development of a private sector-led Agriculture Advisory Board.

On August 17, 2016, five charter members of the Agriculture Advisory Board met with Secretary Redding and Ryan C. Unger, President and CEO of Team PA, at Ag Progress Days to discuss the launch of the partnership. Ag Progress Days (APD), celebrating its 41st year, is Pennsylvania’s largest outdoor agricultural exposition. The show is an annual event hosted at The Pennsylvania State University’s Research Farms. Sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, it is one of only three agricultural exhibitions in the country sponsored by a major university.

Over the next three months, the Department of Agriculture and Team PA will work together to continue to build a 25-member board representative of the various regions of the state and agricultural industries. The board will be tasked with developing a 10-year, statewide Agriculture Strategic Plan and recruiting universities to collect data and trends in agriculture to make future forecasts and inform the work of the Agriculture Advisory Board moving forward. The first meeting of the full board will look to take place in January at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.