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Department of Agriculture Offers Free Virtual Organic Field Day Series through Pennsylvania Farm Bill Organic Program

01/27/2021

Harrisburg, PA - Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced that the PA Preferred® Organic Program, funded through Governor Wolf’s PA Farm Bill, is partnering with Rodale Institute and Penn State Extension to offer Pennsylvania organic farmers and those interested in transitioning to organic a series of virtual field day sessions to learn about the latest tools, techniques, and research in organic no-till crop production.

“When Governor Wolf established the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, he had a goal: to make Pennsylvania first in the nation for organic production,” said Redding. “This series is just another step in that direction, getting Pennsylvania producers the information they need to be successful in this niche of agriculture.”

With Pennsylvania leading the nation in organic poultry and livestock production, the subject-matter covered in this webinar series is critical to growing the organic animal feed industry in Pennsylvania to continue production, processing, and consumption in-state while simultaneously protecting natural resources through no-till practices.

The virtual series includes the following events:

February 3, 2021 – No-Till Organic Cover Cropping for Weed Suppression & Soil Health

A panel of experts will discuss best practices of cover crop selection, cover crop functions in no-till systems, and innovative equipment for weed suppression. The discussion panel will include Dr. Andrew Smith of Rodale Institute, Dr. John Wallace of Penn State Extension, Dean James of Cotner Farms, and Andy Flinchbaugh of Flinchbaugh Family Farms.

February 10, 2021 – Innovative Weed Control Tools in Organic No-Till Systems
A discussion on the use of innovative weed control tools such as flame weeders, weed zappers, row-mow systems, a high residue cultivator, and the Garford Mechanical Weeder.  The discussion panel will include Randall Wenger of Mid Atlantic Farm Service, Sam Malriat of Rodale Institute, Loran Steinlage of Dawn Equipment, and Michael Kathalynas of Garford Equipment.  This event will also feature a program update about the PA Preferred Organic Program by Adam Dellinger, PA Department of Agriculture. 

February 17, 2021 – Planting Green Techniques in Organic No-Till Systems
A discussion about using interseeders, seeding via Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones), and proven and effective planting green techniques used in Pennsylvania. The discussion panel includes Jim Hershey of the PA No-Till Alliance and Hershey Farms, Heidi Reed from Penn State Extension, and Tom Leitgen of Aeroseeder LLC. This event will also feature a research update from Lamonte Garber of the Stroud Water Research Center. 

While the events are free, registration is required to attend. The events will be live with an opportunity to ask questions of panelists.

Established as part of the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Bill, the PA Preferred Organic Program operates with a goal to increase market opportunities for Pennsylvania farmers. Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.

Pennsylvania consumers are increasingly interested in purchasing a greater quantity and variety of organic foods. By producing more organic products in-state, Pennsylvania farmers can meet the demands of this rapidly expanding market opportunity by diversifying their farm, generating greater income, and strengthening an already robust PA agriculture industry. With 1,055 certified organic farms and more than 93,000 acres of certified organic land in the commonwealth, PA farmers are well on their way to addressing this growing need.

The historic Pennsylvania Farm Bill was funded again in the 2020-21 PA Budget at $16 million, which includes $1.6 million for the PA Preferred Organic Program.

For more about the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, visit agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill. For a full schedule of virtual Pennsylvania Farm Show events visit farmshow.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers - 717.603.2056, shpowers@pa.gov

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