Harrisburg – Governor Edward G. Rendell today kicked off the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show by welcoming visitors to celebrate the time-honored tradition and its thousands of exhibitors and volunteers.
“In the past eight years, we have accomplished a great deal to ensure this vital sector of our economy remains vibrant and is well-positioned for growth in the future,” Governor Rendell said. “I applaud the work done to make this industry what it is today, and with continued support, I’m confident agriculture will continue to play an important role in keeping Pennsylvania growing.”
The Governor was joined by Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding, who introduced the new “Parade of Agriculture” that highlighted each of the show’s departments. Representatives from Penn State Cooperative Extension, youth participants, and exhibitors displayed livestock and dairy animals, commodities and entries from the Family Living Department during the ceremony.
Governor Rendell also highlighted some of the many accomplishments of agriculture during his eight years in office, including:
• Investing nearly $150 million in 655 projects through PAgrows, an initiative launched in 2005 to ensure Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry has the financial resources it needs to grow. The state investments have been matched by about $340 million in private funding.
• Preserving nearly 196,000 acres of prime farmland on 2,000 farms bringing the total to 4,096 farms and 444,647 acres preserved in the program’s 22-year history, ensuring that the land will remain viable to feed America and the world for generations to come.
• Launching the PA Preferred program which brands products made in Pennsylvania so shoppers can easily choose goods that will keep money and jobs in their communities. To date, the program is helping 2,000 companies and 3,000 member locations prominently highlight Pennsylvania goods.
• Bringing balance between long-standing farm operations and expanding residential communities. The Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environmental Act, or ACRE, has successfully resolved more than 60 local issues to allow farmers to keep operating.
• Injecting new life into Pennsylvania’s once-struggling equine industry by introducing new gaming opportunities to the state’s horse racing tracks which has added nearly 17,000 jobs and has generated $800 million for the Race Horse Development Fund.
• Enacting one of the state’s most uncompromising dog laws to improve living conditions for man’s best friend.
• Establishing the Centers for Farm Transitions, which has helped producers complete nearly 250 succession plans that will keep more than 87,000 acres in farming. The Centers for Dairy and Beef Excellence also play a critical role in helping producers run their farms more efficiently and increase profit margins.
• Leading the way in the production of renewable energy with Pennsylvania farmers growing crops being transformed into homegrown fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. The state is now producing 150 million gallons of these fuels each year.
The 95th Pennsylvania Farm Show runs through Jan. 15 and features 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors. For more information or a complete schedule, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.
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