The annual Farm Show meeting of the Team Pennsylvania Agriculture Advisory Board took place on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. During this convening, the group heard updates on programs enabled through the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Bill, one of which being the Farm Vitality Grants, which were announced the same day and aimed at funding professional services for planning the future of farms.

The Farm Show this year was appropriately-themed, “imagine the opportunities.” Pennsylvania agriculture’s recent history of imagining the opportunities launched in 2018 with the Pennsylvania Agriculture Economic Impact Analysis, commissioned through Team Pennsylvania’s partnership with the PA Department of Agriculture. The study informed Governor Wolf’s Six-Point Plan for Agriculture, announced in August 2018, which thereafter resulted in the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Bill. Team Pennsylvania and the Agriculture Advisory Board members played a role in providing data that drove the creation of the policies and programs of the Pennsylvania Farm Bill.

Aspiring to extend the work of our previous roadshow, and to share the economic impact study’s recommendations with communities outside of agriculture-specific groups, advisory board members offered ideas of new potential partners to engage in sharing the study’s results. Team Pennsylvania aims to update and benchmark the data from the 2018 study, utilizing the updated USDA Census of Agriculture, and to move forward in engaging these new audiences.

The meeting was also the scene of a lively presentation and discussion on the impact of climate change on Pennsylvania agriculture and opportunities for ag sectors as part of a broader impact mitigation strategy. Michael Roth, William Penn Fellow at the PA Department of Agriculture, led this discussion and brought along samples of milk casein, hemp hurd and bast fibers, and wood wool to demonstrate possible materials made from popular Pennsylvania-produced products.

The entire process of constructing a Pennsylvania Farm Bill brought a renewed perspective to the commonwealth on what is possible when private and public sector leaders come together. May 2020 be a year for working together to imagine the next opportunities for the industry.

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