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Harrisburg – Farm women learned how to boost their business with marketing and other tools at the seventh annual Women in Agriculture Day on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Pechart kicked the conference off with an overview of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and a discussion of agricultural issues, including the Chesapeake Bay, the upcoming federal Farm Bill and new federal and state food safety laws.

"Pennsylvania's agriculture industry is diverse and always changing, and the number of women as primary operators of farms and agribusinesses is growing," said Pechart. "Educational and networking opportunities that are available today are essential to farm success."

A panel discussion, featuring Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture initiatives was first on the agenda. Panel members included:

  • Karen Powell who spoke on the importance of farm risk management;
  • Lela Reichart explained the PA Preferred marketing program and specialty crop funding opportunities;
  • Darlene Livingston presented information about Farm Link and how it connects farmers to resources and other farmers;
  • Mary Bender discussed good conservation practices and the Resource Enhancement and Protection program;
  • Nicole Bucher spoke about social media opportunities for farm businesses; and
  • Melissa Vaccaro addressed home food processing.

Panelist Darlene Livingston said, "My mother always said, 'Agriculture holds equal opportunities for men and women - both have the same opportunity to do the same hard work. It's the example set by agriculture for generations now that has allowed the same opportunities for women in other businesses.'"

Dr. Richard George, professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph's University, was the keynote speaker of the morning session and spoke about the ten rules for a winning marketing strategy. Rules addressed leadership, business awareness, the customer relationship, competitors and leveraging resources.

"Consumers only buy two things: good feelings and solutions to problems," said Dr. George.  "Consumers don't buy an apple; they buy a slice of America."

Penn State Cooperative Extension led a panel that included:

  • Lynn Kime, who spoke about Annie's Project;
  • Raechel Sattazahn, who discussed AgBiz Masters and SmartStart through Ag Choice Farm Credit;
  • Lynda Farrell of the Women in Agriculture Network group; and
  • Mary Ann Oyler, who spoke about 'Strong Women,' a strength training program.

Dr. Ann Swinker, Penn State equine extension specialist, was the feature afternoon speaker and discussed the significance of women in the state's growing equine industry. She noted that "85 percent of horse owners are female and 20,000 horse housing operations are managed by women."

The U.S.  Department of Agriculture-led panel discussed programs available to producers, including:

  • Rebecca Csutoras, Farm Service Programs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • Jana Malot, Conservation Programs and High Tunnels; and
  • Tiffany Lutz, Loan Programs within the Farm Service Agency.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 290 commercial exhibitors. The show runs Jan. 8-15 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10. 

Visit for details.

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For event photos, click here.