Showcasing Agriculture’s Potential and Promise at Ag Progress Days

By: Russell Redding, Secretary of of Agriculture

August 17, 2016

This week, the latest in agricultural technology, research and practice are on display during the state’s largest outdoor exhibition. Ag Progress Days is a three-day showcase of the best of Pennsylvania agriculture. It offers a chance for producers to come together with researchers from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Cooperative Extension, and policymakers to see the most modern equipment, discuss emerging best practices, and talk about the challenges confronting our food and fiber industries.


I’ve been attending Ag Progress Days for roughly 40 years. I never ceased to be amazed by what I see here – and not just in the sense of what’s the latest and greatest in the industry, but in the sense of the pride and enthusiasm I see from those in production agriculture and allied industries. Without question, there are challenges in the agriculture industry today, but there is also an incredible array of opportunities in an ever-changing, increasingly complex landscape and marketplace.

During the course of the three days here, visitors can see how drones are changing the way people farm, how poultry growers can raise healthier flocks, how precision agriculture is being used in the field to increase crop yields while operating more efficiently, and how farmers can find support for their conservation stewardship efforts.


For us in the department, Ag Progress Days is an opportunity to connect directly with producers – one-on-one. While here, we’re hosting discussions on a range of the most pressing, contemporary issues in the field and recognizing farmers for their contributions and commitment to growing the food we all enjoy.

  • On Tuesday, I recognized seven farms that have been under the ownership of the same family for at least 100 years, with two of those farms being owned by the same family for 200 years. We also hosted a town hall meeting with produce growers, feed mills and others who have questions about their obligations under the new federal Food Safety Modernization Act – the most sweeping reform of America’s food safety laws in at least 70 years.
  • Today, federal, state and local policy makers from across Pennsylvania are meeting here to talk about the challenges we face and how we can best address them. Additionally, I’ll join Dean Rick Roush from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences to talk about innovative ways Pennsylvania’s farmers are tacking our water quality improvement obligations, and we recognized a military veteran who is now serving his country in a different way – by growing organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
  • Tomorrow, on Thursday, I’ll join 4-H and FFA members, as well as educators to talk about the importance of agricultural education. Across the state, there is some exciting work taking place in the classroom, as more and more educators see the opportunity to teach in-demand skills in the so-called STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) through agriculture.

Forums like Ag Progress Days remind me of the incredible strides we’ve made as an industry and of the immense potential that exists for the future. Over the past year and a half, I have repeatedly been struck by the level of interest in agriculture and the level of support it enjoys as an industry. People are increasingly interested in knowing where their food is coming from and how it is produced. That level of interest — paired with innumerable opportunities and promising new technologies – strengthen my belief that this is an incredible time to be in agriculture!


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