Pa. Society for Ag invites reps from three other states (Off The Secretary’s Desk)
(Editor’s note: Douglas Fisher is the New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture.)
Along with the Secretaries of Agriculture in three of our surrounding states, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, I have been invited to speak at the Pennsylvania Society for Agriculture meeting in Philadelphia on Jan, 6.
I am particularly proud and honored to serve with distinguished office holders Michael Scuse (Del.), Dr. Russell Reading (Pa.), and Joe Bartenfelder, (Md.).
Quite often the meetings are held in the Lincoln Room at the Union League on Broad Street, but this time we will assemble virtually.
This is truly an amazing organization with a proud history dating from its founding in 1785.
The society likes to make mention that it is “older than the U.S. Constitution.”
The Constitutional Convention did not convene in Philadelphia until 1787 and was not ratified until 1789. Since the society’s founding, one of its main purposes was to spread information about the best elements of agriculture.
Of course, at the time of the forming of the society, agriculture was the major industry in the U.S. and the vast majority of citizenry was involved in its enterprise.
Today, on the other hand, only about 1 percent of our residents make their livelihood from farming.
This fact, however, does not make the society’s importance any less than at any other period in our history because we must constantly strive to learn all we can about the interconnectivity of all systems employed to feed, clothe, and house people while doing the least damage to the natural world.
Each of our four states has unique portfolios of what it grows or raises, and the mix is constantly changing in order for markets to be satisfied and practitioners to be sufficiently compensated to be successful.
In New Jersey, for example, horticulture, at over a half billion dollars at the farm gate, is our largest sector. It was not always occupying that ranking, but opportunity knocked, and savvy farmers took advantage.
Not that long ago, we dominated a much larger scene on the dairy front, and in the middle of our state massive potato farms covered far more acreage.
The same is true with so many other crops, like thousands of acres of peach orchards that were once plentiful in Hunterdon County up north or significant fields of lima beans down south in Cape May County.
To be successful, one must always be looking to see what is around the corner, and across the globe, and then make adjustments.
Regardless of all market arrangements, the absolute need for farm products does not change.
The demand for food, feed, fuel, and fiber never wanes.
It keeps growing.
Price, logistics, and public policy considerations are center stage right now (topics always change) and it is each state department of agriculture’s mission and purpose to help pave the way for farms in whatever paths are needed for operators to remain profitable.
It’s the same in every state. Farmers know they must constantly re-evaluate what they produce and /or at the minimum, how they produce it.
More than ever before, the margin for miscalculations is slender.
Each Department in our respective states is set up a bit differently and has tailored individual responsibilities.
It is always good to be together and share our thinking with each other and the public.
The four states are remarkable in so many ways.
Agricultural beginnings with native populations as well as waves of immigrants adding their experience of cultures from foreign lands have each layered their practices one with another since the founding of our country.
All of this spread in every direction from here and resulted in the greatest agricultural movement in the history of the world.
This event allows those more indirectly involved a chance to peer in and gain perspective of interactions of government and business as it relates to the people we serve.