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Ag Secretary attends Farm City Day

Redding spotlights dairy industry, agriculture education efforts

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding (center) visits with area school students during a visit to Vale Wood Farms on Wednesday. Courtesy photo

LORETTO — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding was joined Wednesday by local school students from Westmont Hilltop and Philipsburg Elementary schools, 4-H representatives and members of the Dairy Princess Program for Farm City Day at Vale Wood Farms to highlight agriculture education, agritourism and recognize the future of the agriculture workforce.

“In partnership with Vale Wood Farms, this Farm City Day allows school students to be more aware of food and where it comes from. As we grow the next generation of agriculturalists, we are better prepared and connected to address some of the greatest challenges of our time,” said Redding in a release. “We have been very intentional in efforts to get the next generations interested in agriculture careers, including the process of how ice-cream is made.”

Wednesday’s event included a “From Moo to You” farm tour of the dairy barn and production facility. Students rotated through hands-on stations to learn what a cow eats and how she makes milk. This tour teaches visitors where milk comes from and was followed by an ice-cream making activity.

The Wolf administration, in coordination with the General Assembly, created a 15-member Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence between the departments of Agriculture and Education that is helping to develop a statewide plan to get more agriculture education in urban and rural schools.

Pennsylvania ranks seventh nationally in total milk production, with nearly 520,000 cows producing more than 10.6 billion pounds of milk annually. The industry supports 53,300 jobs and contributes $14.1 billion to the state’s economy.

Students from Westmont Hilltop and Philipsburg Elementary schools attend Farm City Day at Vale Wood Farms in Cambria county on Wednesday. Farm City Day, an event full of agriculture education and farm tours, included a tour of the dairy barn and an ice-cream making activity. Courtesy photo

Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry fuels more than 593,000 jobs across the commonwealth, paying nearly $33 billion in wages each year. Over the next decade, agriculture is expected to face a workforce change as farmers and laborers retire and new technology-based positions become available.

Vale Wood Farms received a farm vitality state grant to help enhance the long-term health and vitality of Pennsylvania’s farms through sound business planning, efficient transitions of farm ownership, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production and financial and technical expertise.

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