Harrisburg, PA – The 104th Pennsylvania Farm Show wrapped up today after hosting more than 500,000 visitors over eight days.
The Farm Show is an opportunity for children and adults to interact with growers, producers, and animals and raise awareness for the vast array of opportunities within Pennsylvania agriculture.
Agriculture has a $135.7 billion annual impact on Pennsylvania's economy and supports more than 580,000 jobs in the state.
But there is a projected need for more agricultural workers. By 2027, the commonwealth estimates 75,000 new and replacement job openings in the agriculture industry. In addition to traditional farming, these job titles will need workers: soil and water conservationists, veterinarians, butchers and small and large batch bakers. Also needed are farm equipment mechanics, truck drivers, lumber industry workers, agricultural scientists and a host of other jobs.
The Farm Show theme, "Imagine the Opportunities," invited the public to reflect on how they already interact with agriculture — the source of every meal — and consider whether they or their children would thrive in an agriculture career.
A broad range of exhibits offered hands-on opportunities for all ages to try out tools and equipment, and learn from experts how much they would need to invest, what education they might need, and what methods would suit their budget and resources to try a new venture or be profitable and sustainable at any scale.
While the Farm Show is for all ages, many events fostered youth interest in agriculture.
"These activities teach useful skills that inspire careers. It is important to expose children to agriculture early," Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. "For those wishing to pursue an agriculture career, there is no better place than the Farm Show. For those not sure what career to pursue, consider agriculture and imagine the opportunities."
During the Farm Show, the Department of Agriculture announced several grants, including $500,000 in PA Farm Bill Ag and Youth Grants, funding more than 50 projects to improve access to agriculture career paths.
The $1 million Farm Vitality Planning Grant, funded through the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, opened for applications during Farm Show week. This grant provides up to $7,500 funding for individual farm operators or prospective farmers, to write business plans, expansion plans or plans for transitioning ownership of a farm to the next generation.
The 2020 Farm Show featured numerous ways for youth to interact with agriculture, including 4-H members spinning sheep's wool and rabbit angora into yarn and weaving textiles; youth participating in exciting rodeos; and competitive cooking.
At Monday's FFA Mid-Winter Convention, held annually at the Farm Show, more than 5,000 FFA members and guests celebrated agricultural education. The convention recognized the academic, leadership and field-based experiences of 405 Keystone Degree recipients, the highest honor earned at the state level. In addition, the Pennsylvania FFA Alumni Association awarded 420 first-year members their own official FFA jacket after completing a competitive application process.
At Tuesday's annual junior livestock sale, more than 400 market animals — hogs, steers, lambs, rabbits, lambs and goats — that were raised and shown by youth, were auctioned off. A percentage of auction earnings goes to the Pennsylvania Farm Show Scholarship Foundation which uses the money, along with donations, to provide scholarships for agriculture students. In total, 24 college students received $84,000 in scholarships Tuesday through the foundation. Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and Delaware Valley University awarded an additional $2,000 to their students for receiving the award.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, visit agriculture.pa.gov.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the nation's largest indoor agricultural event, featuring 12,000 competitive exhibits, more than 5,200 of which are animal competitions, plus 300 commercial exhibitors. The show runs January 4 – 11, 2020. Admission is free and parking is $15 in Farm Show lots. The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is easily accessible from Interstates 81 and 83.
Note: High resolution photos and captions from today's events can be downloaded from the Pennsylvania Farm Show photo gallery and attributed to the PA Department of Agriculture.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Shannon Powers, 717-783-2628