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Enjoy Farm Show, and learn something: Editorial

Posted 1/3/18

Strength in Our Diversity.

That’s the theme for the Pennsylvania Farm Show this year, the 102nd edition. It gets underway with a Food Court preview day on Friday and continues through Jan. …

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Enjoy Farm Show, and learn something: Editorial

Posted

Strength in Our Diversity.

That’s the theme for the Pennsylvania Farm Show this year, the 102nd edition. It gets underway with a Food Court preview day on Friday and continues through Jan. 13. You can find more details on page A2.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors will visit the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the United States, with a million square feet under one roof. It features nearly 12,000 competitive exhibits, more than 5,200 of which are animal competitions, plus 300 commercial exhibits and hundreds of educational and entertaining events.

The agriculture industry employs nearly half a million people and contributes $74.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy every year. Diversity is an important part of the industry. It’s staggering to think about the breadth of what it entails.

According to information provided by the Farm Show: Pennsylvania has “more than 58,000 farms and 7.7 million acres statewide devoted to valuable agricultural production; top-five producer in the nation of more than 10 agricultural commodities; and 2,300 food processing companies provide food for Pennsylvania and around the world.”

It’s not just growing traditional crops, either. It ranges “from the rich, centuries-old heritage of our dairy and hardwoods industries to more recent ventures in aquaponics and vertical farming. We have farmers whose families have been in the industry for centuries and entrepreneurial start-ups — both are driving innovation. Recent growth has catapulted Pennsylvania to second nationally in organics. We have traditional farms with acres of rolling fields, and urban farms growing on the rooftops and vacant spaces of our cities.”

The Farm Show evolves to include innovation. Remember, for those of you who still think agriculture innovation tops out at how to run a plow more efficiently: It’s a high-tech business. High-tech tractors use computers. Drones are used to help look at fields. Efficiency has increased because of the data now available to farmers of all types. That has changed the industry and the work force looking to enter it.

You might not go to the Farm Show to learn about any of that. Maybe the science of how things work in the industry doesn’t interest you. Maybe it’s the milkshakes. Maybe you take your youngsters to see the many animals on display. Maybe you like the cooking demonstration or the butter sculpture.

Maybe you go because you went with your parents or your grandparents and it brings back wonderful memories of years past.

It doesn’t really matter why you go. If you are there, you have the opportunity for fun but also to learn about the agriculture industry. At its core, that’s a main reason the Farm Show exists.

So while you are sucking on that milkshake, learn something at the Farm Show that you didn’t know about agriculture in the state. Whether you yourself are a farmer or know nothing at all about how it all works, the opportunities are right in front of you. There is strength not only in diversity but in knowledge as well.

Enjoy the 102nd edition.

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