Ag Progress Days, Part II

Posted by PennStateGrassroots on August 19, 2009 

Today I went back to Ag Progress Days, the state's largest agricultural exposition, held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, about nine miles outside of State College. The exposition is sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS).

Today was "government/industry day," which provides an opportunity for elected officials to meet with working farmers and people in ag-related businesses. Among the federal and state government officials present were U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-PA; U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-5; state Agricultural Secretary Dennis Wolff; and state Attorney General Tom Corbett.

Among the Penn State representatives there were Penn State President Graham Spanier and CAS Dean Bruce McPheron. Before becoming dean on July 1, McPheron
was associate dean for research and graduate education. His field is entomology.

Specter, during his remarks, recalled that he and his staff have called on McPheron for 20 years for advice and counsel. Specter added that he was "glad to see [McPheron] in the dean's spot."

Both Spanier and McPheron talked about the approximately 1,100 acres of state land the University would like to purchase from the State Correctional Institution at Rockview.

Spanier asked Ag Progress Days visitors to note how well the University cares for the 2,000-acre Larson Agricultural Research Center and said that acquiring the Rockview land would present a "unique opportunity for Penn State and the local community."

Penn State would like to use the land for agricultural education and research. Transferring adjoining Rockview land to Benner Township and the state Fish and Boat Commission would also foster new recreational uses of the land for area residents and visitors alike.

McPheron said that the Rockview property is an "exceptional place." The 1,100 acres Penn State would like to purchase border the Spring Creek Canyon in Benner Township. On the CAS website, McPheron says the Rockview property -- those acres not in the Canyon proper –- is currently a mixture of forests, orchard, open fields, and crop land.

"The land represents a unique opportunity for the College to invest in innovative educational and research programs that advance our understanding and capacity to produce food, materials, and energy sustainably, respectful of and enriching the ecological services provided by the land and landscape," McPheron says on the CAS website.

Acquiring the Rockview land would allow the College to do research into biofuels and other important areas, McPheron said. The College manages other tracts of land now where such research could be done -- but not without displacing essential research in other areas that is already going on.

To see McPheron's full statement on the College's vision for the Rockview land, go to: http://agsci.psu.edu/news/spotlight/rockview/vision

Alan Janesch
Director, Penn State Grassroots Network

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