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Annual Farm Show kicks off, highlighting diversity of state’s agriculture

Ducklings slip and slide at the Pennsylvania Farm Show

Ducklings take turns sliding down the slide on Saturday at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.
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Ducklings take turns sliding down the slide on Saturday at the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.

The 102nd annual Pennsylvania Farm Show opened Saturday with nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and more than 300 commercial exhibits.

Gov. Wolf, flanked by goats and alpacas, gave a welcoming speech that highlighted the diversity of Pennsylvania agricultural and the impact it has on the commonwealth’s economy. The industry employs nearly half a million people and contributes $185 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.

A green farming area, a hemp exhibit and a cow birthing center were among the displays that were new to the Farm Show this year.

The Farm Show also touted the theme of “Strength in Our Diversity,” which could be seen in this year’s butter sculpture. The sculpture, which took two weeks to build, weighs more than 1,000 pounds.

The College of Agricultural Science at Penn State also had a presence at the Farm Show. Jonathan Ziegler, marketing specialist for Penn State agricultural sciences, said it was the 10th year that Penn State had a booth.

“We try to raise awareness of Penn State ag sciences undergraduate education Extension programs,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler said the group started with a small booth, but this year’s booth was the largest yet.

“We moved up to this larger shape — this is a 30-by-50 booth. We’ve added presentations so we have our master gardeners, our master watershed stewards and our home food preservation Extension educators. We do about four a day,” Ziegler said. “We also have a chance for our undergraduate education office to do their outreach with prospective students.”

More than 250,000 visitors are expected at this year’s Farm Show and Ziegler said the booth also offers Penn State a way to reach out to those in the agricultural industry, homeowners, hobbyists, home gardeners and others who they might not typically interact with.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, hosted a listening session regarding the upcoming farm bill and agriculture policy.

The price of dairy products was an overriding theme throughout the forum, and Thompson said he heard some suggestions and ideas that could be effective.

“I really liked the idea about having a national hearing, mostly with dairy farmers themselves looking on pricing with a requirement to report to congress. I think that is a tremendous idea whose time has come,” Thompson said.

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