by Jon M. Casey
The Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association held their 2017 annual Cattlemen’s Banquet at the Ramada Inn Convention Center in State College the evening of March 30.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President, Craig Uden, served as Keynote Speaker updating the group on the national association’s efforts to support the cattle industry. Uden said while top issues currently facing the industry include foreign trade, especially with Canada, Mexico and Japan, he is greatly encouraged following meetings with congressional leaders and executive department heads in Washington. He said the tone of the leadership is to get things done which will improve conditions for farmers, especially beef producers. “Ag has been positively affected by the new government. I’ve never seen it this positive [in Washington],” he said.
Uden said the NCBA is working with the EPA to help develop new regulations concerning water and waterway management, following the President’s rescinding of the regulations previously in effect. One of the more interesting notes from Uden’s time in Washington was how the NCBA and members of the House of Representatives have re-established the Beef Caucus, a group of Congressmen which are willing to help inform the remainder of the House when issues concerning the beef industry are under consideration. He noted since there are only 70 of the 435 representatives who come from rural areas of the nation, it is extremely important for this caucus to return after a 10-year absence.
On the state level, Laura England, the new PA Department of Agriculture Director of Market Development, gave a brief presentation on her efforts to promote agriculture throughout the state and her plans to work on behalf of farming to support the Beef Industry. She discussed the upcoming state budget and the pending cuts which might affect agriculture. Nationally, budget cuts could also be in the works for agriculture.
England said workforce development is a major issue in Pennsylvania agriculture. With the increasing number of workers who are retiring from the industry, there is an estimated 75,000 potential job openings to be filled in the coming years. She said PDA is working to educate the public on how young people might prepare for careers in agriculture.
Pennsylvania State Representatives David Zimmerman and Mark Keller each spoke briefly, on what the legislature is doing to help agriculture. Most importantly, they are working to educate consumers of the importance of agriculture in Pennsylvania. Zimmerman said he is working to help farmers with efforts to speed up DEP permitting, which has been extremely slow. Keller added he is introducing legislation which will require public schools to offer courses in FFA, education which is currently either not offered or offered for no class credit. He wants to see these classes given scholarship credit just as other classes.
Honors and scholarships
George McQuiston, PA Cattlemen’s Association Treasurer, announced the winners of this year’s PCA Legacy Scholarship Awards. Chandler Kern, a junior at Penn State University and Hunter Voight, also an Ag student at Penn State, were this year’s recipients. Both students are pursuing careers in Agriculture.
Ben and Jessica Weist of Berks County received the Commercial Cowherd Award. Their 40-cow mixed herd produces feeder cattle for local feedlots. They have taken a former mushroom farm and turned it into a thriving cattle operation. They rely upon rotational grazing with supplemental hay feeding during winter months.
David Weaver of Kutztown, PA received the PCA Cattle Feeder of the Year Award. David, along with his son, Jordan, run a finishing operation where he maintains 100-head of Angus based cattle on feed.
Ron DeFulvio of Berks County received this year’s Seed Stock Breeder Award. Ron retired from a career at Bethlehem Steel in January 1998 after 31 years and began his Oak Lane Farm Hereford cattle operation when he purchased a heifer and a steer. He planned to artificially inseminate the heifer and butcher the steer. From that, he built his herd of registered Herefords, providing an annual crop of breeding stock for Pennsylvania cattlemen and show animals for 4-H projects.
Annie Duncan received the 2017 Industry Service Award for her work with the PA Simmental Association and for her photography services on behalf of the PA Cattlemen’s Association.
Wyatt Fox, of Duncannon, PA received Junior Cattleman of the Year honors for his agricultural and beef cattle related activities. For a young farmer who is only 18 years of age, Wyatt is extremely involved in the industry.
Makayla Stone of Wayne County was named Junior Cattlewoman of the year. Makayla still attends high school but will be attending Penn State in the fall where she will major in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences in PSU’s Animal Science program.
The 2017 Special Appreciation Award went to the Tina Hicks-Kern and Chris Kern Family. The Kerns, along with daughters Cristina and Chandlar, have been extremely active in showing beef cattle in various venues including recent honors at both local and state levels. The family’s efforts with PCA include board membership and event planning activities. This evening’s banquet and the 2017 Jackpot Show in Harrisburg, where Tina served as event Chairperson, are but two examples.
Finally, for his efforts at recruiting new members for the organization and his enthusiasm for the Pennsylvania cattle industry, George McQuiston, vice president of the PA Cattlemen’s Association, received the 2017 PA Cattlemen’s Top Hand Award, an embroidered denim shirt.
New Board Members
Five new board members were elected by unanimous voice vote, to fill the five vacancies created by those rotating off the board. The new members are Jim Cowell, Frosty Springs Farm, Green County; George Bard, Conestoga; Rachel McQuiston, Harrisville; Bobbie Bailey, PhD, Waynesburg, and Cliff Orley, Lebanon.