The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

March 2, 2014

Eggs, bacon, milk, wheat? Thank the farmers for breakfast

— DANVILLE — Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary George Greig is very optimistic about the future of agriculture in the state.

“Pennsylvania is the only state where the number of dairy herds has increased,” he said Friday during a breakfast for farmers from Montour, Northumberland and Columbia counties in Danville American Legion Post 40.

Six Legion volunteers prepared the breakfast, hosted by state Rep. Kurt Masser, with the meal paid for by AgChoice Farm Credit of Lewisburg. About 50 people attended.

“Milk prices are up. Dairy is the largest agriculture business in the state. Nationwide, dairy products are up 14 percent,” said Greig who owns a farm with his brother in Linesville, Crawford County, where corn, hay and soybeans are grown.

The agriculture secretary since 2011, he said the proposed state budget contains a $2 million increase for agriculture which is needed in part due to the agriculture department handling 57 of the 67 counties when it comes to regulating weights and measures of products. “Some counties do their own and others have been giving up the services,” he said. The state is required to take over those services if a county gives them up, he said.

“The Agriculture Department is fortunate to have a governor and legislators who understand the importance of agriculture,” he said.

Pennsylvania has 63,000 farm families owning more than 7.7 million acres.

Agriculture production and agribusiness contribute nearly $67 billion to the state’s economy.Local fairs and the Pennsylvania Farm Show are great places to tell the story of agriculture and serve as a great economic driver, he said, for non-farmers and people from all walks of life “to know where all the food comes from.”

Masser said the breakfast — the first of its kind he has hosted — is a “great place to bounce ideas off the secretary and enjoy a great meal — the Legion always does a fantastic job for us.”

He said it is important to meet with farmers “who are in the trenches day-after-day and hear their concerns and share what is going on with them in Harrisburg and to have the secretary here who is right in the heart of it.”

In discussing successes in agriculture, Masser said the inheritance tax on family farms has been eliminated. “Often the next generation would have to sell part of the farm to pay the taxes. We are trying to preserve family farms,” he said.

Providing door prizes were AgChoice and TPC and Tractor Supply Co., both of Bloomsburg.

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