This year’s 41st Ag Progress Days was held Aug. 16 to 18 at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center in Rock Springs, PA featured more than 500 exhibitors and event demonstrations. At the Government and Industry Day Luncheon on Wednesday the 17th, more than 700 alumni, agricultural industry members and local, state, and federal governmental officials met to hear updates on the progress that has been made in state budgetary improvements since the 9-month impasse that took place during the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
According to Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Mike Stack, despite last year’s budget impasse, he said the governor continued to support agriculture despite the cuts. He said more recently, increases in certain line items in a tight budget year, have helped restore some of the cuts that had taken place earlier. “Our administration sees agriculture as a major contributor to our economic development…,” he said. “We have achieved a great deal legislatively,” he added.
Pennsylvania Secretary Russell C. Redding expressed his appreciation for the cooperative effort that is ongoing between the PA Department of Agriculture and Penn State University. Noting the importance of Land Grant Universities like Penn State, he said the restoration of funding that was cut in the previous state budget, along with the changes that have taken place to improve the efficiencies of several segments of PDA, will go far in making agriculture in Pennsylvania better. “There’s not a better place to be in agriculture than in Pennsylvania,” he said.
Concluding the luncheon program, Rick Roush, Dean of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, said the enrollment in the school of agriculture has an increase of approximately 10-percent over the enrollment in 2015. He said there were more than 3000 undergraduates and 600 graduate students currently in the program. Final numbers for enrollment will not be available until mid-October however.
He recounted the efforts of Penn State Extension in improving Pennsylvania’s water quality throughout the commonwealth. He added that job placement of graduates from PSU’s agricultural program face excellent opportunities nationwide. He said financial support from alumni as well as industry, have helped keep the Ag school healthy despite the state funding changes.
Roush recognized Bob Oberheim, Ag Progress Days Show Director and long-time employee of PSU, noting Oberheim’s pending retirement at the end of September. After 39 years of serving the School of Agriculture, and with the most recent 25 of those years managing Ag Progress Days, Roush expressed the university’s appreciation by presenting Oberheim with a statuette of the Penn State Nittany Lion.
Oberheim spoke briefly to acknowledge those who were instrumental in his taking over the manager of the show and to his family for their support as well. “Being the show manager is much like being the quarterback on a football team,” he said. “You get way too much credit when the show is successful, but you are only as good as the players in front of you.”
He said in the case of this show, the credit goes to the faculty, staff and College of Ag Sciences, along with those who attend the show and exhibit at it, that all go together to make it the event that it is. Oberheim thanked several others individuals who were instrumental in helping him through the years in various ways. “These men did more for my career successes than they will ever know,” he said.
“This year, we have a record 510 exhibitors,” he noted. He especially thanked several long-time exhibitors who have supported his efforts over the past 25 years. These included Don Hoover, Binkley & Hurst; Bill Burgess, Lancaster Farming; Carl Neutzel, Carl W. Neutzel Services, Inc.; Dave Heath, Heath & Associates, Taylor Doebler, III, T.A. Seeds; Karl Walizer, Dotterer Equipment; Butch Otto, Eastern States Livestock and Gary Heckman of Ag Choice Farm Credit.
“Life goes by way too fast,” he concluded. “I’m blessed beyond what words can say. When you work at a job you have passion for, it’s not like going to work at all. God gave me a love for agriculture way back in high school. It really has been a dream to work in that profession for the past 38 years.”