Local Farmers Arrive at Farm Bureau’s Hershey Meeting

HERSHEY PA – More than 600 farmers and others interested in agriculture – including farm owners and operators in Berks, Chester, and Montgomery counties – will meet Monday through Wednesday this week (Nov. 14-16, 2022) in Hershey to chart the future of, and discuss policy considerations for, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and its affiliates.

Agriculture is constantly changing, state Farm Bureau representative David Varner explained, and the organization’s annual meeting gives farmers opportunities “to examine those future trends in depth.” Key legislative issues anticipated by bureau members during 2023 include the state Farm Bill, concerns about avian flu, agricultural labor reforms, and regulations governing potentially harmful PFAS chemicals detected globally in water, air, and soils.

Despite increasing commercial and residential land use in southeastern Pennsylvania, the agriculture industry continues to be a major contributor to the economies of the three-county region. According to 2021-2022 statistics from the Pennsylvania Annual Bulletin of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • Berks County is home to 1,809 farms covering 224,722 acres, with an average farm size of 124 acres, devoted primarily to cattle (788 farms) and poultry (366) production;
  • Chester County includes 1,646 farms embodying 150,514 acres, with an average farm size of 91 acres, primarily for cattle (788 farms) and poultry (365) production; and
  • Montgomery County hosts 565 farms with a total of 30,896 acres and an average farm size of 55 acres, favoring poultry (145 farms) and cattle (127) production.

During the conference farmers will participate Monday and Tuesday in a variety of seminars of particular interest to their businesses. They include a “General Farm Economy Outlook,” “Agricultural Security and Risks for Today’s Farmer,” “Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases,” and beef and dairy producer education.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding is scheduled to speak to members Wednesday night during their 72nd annual banquet.

The Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.

Photo by The Post