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2024 PA Farm Show Wraps, ‘Connecting Our Communities’ to a Bright Tomorrow: Governor Josh Shapiro Lauds Agriculture As “Pillar of Opportunity” for Pennsylvania’s Future Economic Growth

01/14/2024

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Harrisburg, PA – The 108th Pennsylvania Farm Show wrapped up eight days of the 2024 Pennsylvania State Fair™ yesterday, connecting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Pennsylvanians who feed, clothe, and fuel our families and communities daily, and are the foundation of our economy.

Making good on his promise at the 2023 Farm Show to make agriculture a central priority of his administration, Governor Josh Shapiro thanked Pennsylvania's farmers for an excellent education – recounting a year of visits to farms of all types and sizes – and for being our heritage, a major driver of our economy, and one of four "pillars of opportunity" for the state's economic growth.

"This year's theme, Connecting Our Communities, demonstrated why Pennsylvania rings in every New Year welcoming guests from around the world to celebrate the finest agriculture industry anywhere," Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said, "Whatever your perspective, the 2024 Farm Show forged friendships, strengthened connections, and inspired opportunities that will enrich our lives, our businesses, and our communities throughout the coming year. I am looking forward to a bright 2024 as the Shapiro Administration economic development strategy unfolds, recognizing the strength, and potential of Pennsylvania agriculture to feed our future together."

Here are just a few glimpses of the connections forged and strengthened during the show for those who represent the bright future, thriving present, and proud past of Pennsylvania's $132.5 billion agriculture industry — the people in the spotlight in showrings, behind the food counters, and behind the scenes around every corner.

Connecting Agriculture and Food Businesses with Growth Opportunities

  • Governor Josh Shapiro joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Secretary, and PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding to address more than 800 agriculture policymakers gathered from the Shapiro Administration, the PA General Assembly, local government, as well as private industry leaders from every sector of agriculture. Thanks to $26 million in federal funding, Pennsylvania will fund projects that strengthen the state's food systems by improving capacity and resilience in the middle of the supply chain for farm and food businesses.
  • Delegations from 36 countries connected with Pennsylvania agricultural trade leaders, seeking opportunities to buy Pennsylvania products, and forging partnerships that will strengthen agriculture businesses and feed our economy in the future.

Connecting Students of All Ages to Career Opportunities

A portion of the more than $160,745 raised at the Sale of Champions, and Jr. Market Livestock Sale will fund Farm Show Scholarship Foundation scholarships in 2024. Many of the sales will fund the purchase of new animals by youth who will raise them, connecting them to hands-on education through the next year. Buyers of other animals donate them to Feeding Pennsylvania, connecting hungry families across the state to nutritious meals.

The PA Farm Show Scholarship Foundation awarded 20 college students from 15  PA counties with $28,869 in scholarships from funds raised at the 2023 Farm Show. Funding connects recipients — many of whom grew up competing in Farm Show as FFA or 4-H students — with support for career training in agriculture fields from textile science to agronomy to veterinary medicine.

At Monday's FFA Mid-Winter Convention, an arena packed with family members, educators and friends applauded two new FFA chapters, and a Pennsylvania record of 970 students who earned their blue FFA jackets for the first time. Another 505 student leaders were presented with Keystone Degrees — the capstone of their preparation for careers in science, business and technology — connecting them to opportunities to become the skilled, innovative workforce that feeds our families and our economy tomorrow.

Pennsylvania awarded $300,000 in PA Farm Bill grants to connect military veterans to opportunities in farming, and $500,000 in PA Farm Bill grants to prepare the next generation for agriculture careers, connecting students to opportunities and resources for future success.

Connecting Consumers to Quality Pennsylvania Products

Fourteen calves from four family-run dairy farms were born at the Calving Corner, connecting crowds daily with the miracle of birth. A host of volunteers demonstrated the hard work, passion, and care that goes into putting wholesome PA dairy products on our tables day-in and day-out – just one vivid example of the PA farm families who connected throughout the show with the families who consume their products.

At the PA Preferred® Culinary Connection stage, 65 cooking competitions and demonstrations featured master chefs from top Pennsylvania restaurants, TV culinary shows, professional sports teams, and military branches, along with guests including First Lady Lori Shapiro, pint-sized novices, nutritionists, farmer-veterans, beekeepers, and culinary students. Events featured Pennsylvania farms, wineries, breweries, cideries, and creameries, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the PA Preferred program connecting consumers to Pennsylvania agricultural products. Visitors enjoyed samples prepared under the direction of master chefs by from Pennsylvania culinary schools, and took home recipes to whip up PA-sourced culinary masterpieces at home.

The 1,000-pound butter sculpture unveiled to kick off the 2024 Farm Show will be dismantled Sunday by 4-H members, recycled in a methane digester, and converted to renewable energy to power Reinford Farms' Juniata County dairy farm, connecting their community to a sustainable future.

With sales figures still rolling in, the commodity-producer organizations hosting food court booths during the show will continue to connect their members to consumers who buy their products and feed Pennsylvania's economy. Proceeds will fund professional development for their members, scholarships for future members, and beef up the bottom lines of Pennsylvania producers.

On Friday, January 12, PA Farm Show Complex and Expo Center staff parked nearly 11,000 cars on complex-owned lots, a one-day record for the PA Farm Show. Parking revenue from the show will partially fund next year's event.

Enjoy video highlights including a wrap-up of the week, as well as full show results, a photo album of highlights, and news releases from the show on the media page at farmshow.pa.gov.

Editors: Find broadcast-quality video and high-resolution photos on PAcast.

 Contact:  Shannon Powers, shpowers@pa.gov, 717-603-2056

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