New public-private advisory board to help guide work addressing barriers to economic growth

Harrisburg, PA – A new 25-member advisory board consisting of executive leaders representing the breadth of Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector and industries on which it depends – from the field to the point of retail sale – met January 10th to chart a course for how the commonwealth can remove barriers to economic growth in the state’s food and fiber industries.

The new agriculture advisory board is part of a partnership established last year between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Team PA.

“These are extraordinary times in agriculture—full of opportunities and challenges,” said state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “But as we seek to capitalize on those opportunities and mitigate those challenges, we must be mindful that we are in the midst of a changing landscape. And given all of the changes in the world—if Pennsylvania agriculture is to compete and thrive—it is essential that we have input from experienced and respected industry leaders who can help guide us. Our partnership with Team PA and the leaders who are serving on this advisory board will give us that strategic counsel and expertise.”

Redding will serve as co-chair of the new Team PA Agriculture Advisory Board along with Scott Sechler, who is the chairman and president of Bell and Evans, which is a pioneer in the natural foods market as a leading producer of chickens raised without antibiotics. Sechler also serves on the board of directors for the Team Pennsylvania Foundation.

The mission of the advisory board and this collaborative, industry-led partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Team PA is to support Pennsylvania’s agricultural economic development efforts by deepening private sector engagement and creating opportunities for meaningful partnership by:

  • Providing policy makers with the benefit of private industry’s knowledge, resources and networks to advance specified strategic goals;
  • Enhancing the commonwealth’s ability to respond promptly and strategically to opportunities and to engage agricultural partners and stakeholders proactively;
  • Coordinating support for expedited project completion, increasing efficiency and staff capacity;
  • Increasing the visibility of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry; and
  • Engaging industry leaders and stakeholders to support research and projects that benefit the industry and contribute toward its growth.

“Agriculture has been and will continue to be a critical component of our commonwealth’s economy,” Ryan C. Unger, President & CEO of Team Pennsylvania Foundation remarked, “Our partnership with the Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture Advisory Board will provide a strategic focus on this important work. We believe strongly that the private and public sectors achieve more when working together.”

Among the priority projects the advisory board will address first are the department’s ongoing work to develop a 10-year strategic plan for the industry; identifying needs and opportunities to develop a trained workforce that can fill an estimated 75,000 expected vacancies in the food and fiber industries by 2025; and assessing inhibitors to growth by doing a comparative assessment of best economic development practices and strategies in other states.

“This is an exciting partnership with immense potential,” added Redding. “It puts agriculture at the table in a number of different economic development conversations and it connects our industry to a host of others, prompting many private sector leaders to think differently about the economic significance of our food and fiber industries to the commonwealth. And Team PA is the right model to do this work. They offer us the professionalism, the organization, and the reach to achieve our goals.”

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, visit agriculture.pa.gov.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The full list of Team PA Agriculture Advisory Board members is as follows:

  • Jim Adams, CEO and Chief Marketing Officer, Wenger Feeds
  • Bill Beam, Owner, Beam Farms
  • Mike Brownback, Farmer, Spiral Path Farms
  • Mike Brubaker, CEO and Chief Marketing Officer, Blackford Ventures
  • Tom Clemens, Senior Vice President, Hatfield Quality Meets
  • Darrell Curtis, President and CEO, AgChoice Farm Credit
  • Taylor Doebler, President, TA Seeds
  • Calvin Ernst, President, Ernst Seeds
  • Daniel Eichenlaub, President, Eichenlaub Landscaping
  • Joe Fox, Marketing Representative, Philadelphia Port
  • Chad Geise, President, Furmano Foods
  • Scott Hauseman, Senior Vice President, Agricultural Financial Services, Fulton Bank
  • Don Hoover, President, Binkley and Hurst
  • Peter Hughes, President, Red Barn Consulting
  • David Jaindl, Owner and President, Jaindl Companies
  • Mike John, COO, Milk Marketing, Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association
  • David Masser, President, Sterman Masser
  • Mario Mazza, General Manager and Vice President, Mazza Vineyards
  • John McDonald, Director of Marketing and Planning, Ahold USA
  • Alan, Novak, President and Founder, Novak Strategic Advisors
  • Mike Peachey, Partner, Ag and Agribusiness Services, Acuity Advisors and CPAs
  • Chris Pierce, President, Heritage Poultry Management Services, Inc.
  • John Rice, Vice President, R&L Orchards
  • Scott Sechler, Chairman and President, Bell and Evans
  • Gary Smith, President and CEO, Chester County Economic Development Council

1 Comment

  1. Lisa Kovalick, Clearfield County Community Development Specialist said on

    This partnership is exciting, I am looking for grant opportunities for a private business that is looking to expand in agricultural fiber business.

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