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Agriculture applauded in Lebanon County

LEBANON, Pa. -- Agriculture stands at the top of Lebanon County’s economy, as it does for numerous other counties in the Keystone State. That fact is evident on any journey through the county; fields and farms dominate the landscape most everywhere.

And so it stands to reason that farming is spotlighted at numerous events throughout the year with hundreds of people from the community taking part. On Friday, October 11, for example, Reid and Diane Hoover and family of Brook Corner Holsteins opened their farm to 5th graders. Two days later, they did the same for the general public, drawing a combined 371 visitors to their well-groomed, picturesque property.

On Thursday, November 7, some 300 people crowded into the Midway Church of the Brethren Auditorium for the 33rd Annual Farm City Banquet to review and celebrate the activities of 2013. Among them was the Hoovers’ opening of their farm, for which Reid and Diane were formally recognized and applauded.

Thanks to their new, state-of-the-art facilities and quality-focused management, the Hoovers were able to showcase dairy farming as a modern and efficient family business.

“Tonight's banquet represents the culmination of our'committee's efforts to educate the public about modern farming and food production and celebrate the diversity of agriculture and industry in the Lebanon Valley,” affirmed Tom Kauffman, Farm-City Committee chairman.

The Farm-City banquet is a project of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, which organizes and promotes several activities throughout the year designed to bridge the gap between farmers and non-farmers.

“When you consider the business of our region, agriculture stands tall as key pillar to the foundation of Lebanon County and a key to the future success of the entire Lebanon Valley,” said William Mulligan, a Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce board member. Continuing, he said:

“Tonight, we celebrate the contributions brought to life by our thriving community of farmers and the many business partners that provide needed equipment, materials, and animal care.

“Our dedicated Farm-City Committee works diligently to provide a variety of educational opportunities to showcase the important work of our farming community. The Farm-City Exchange allows leaders from agriculture and a community or business representative to spend a day in each other's workplace. Elementary school students and a public open house give non-farming folks a chance to get out on the farm to learn more about where their food comes from. The annual banquet serves as a capstone celebration for all of this year's activities.

“We are grateful to Kristen Grumbine and Laura LeBeau for participating in the Farm-City Exchange. We appreciate Reid & Diane Hoover for hosting this year's school tours and open farm. We applaud the Farm-City Committee for tonight's banquet.

“We offer our thanks to Jere Gish of WGAL-TV 8 for returning to serve as our master of ceremonies.

“We salute our silver, bronze and scholarship sponsors who have made all this possible through their generous support, including: Deer Country Farm & Lawn, Inc., Kauffman's Animal Health, Inc., Cargill, Farmer Boy Ag Systems, Inc., First National Bank of Fredericksburg, Good Samaritan Health System and MidAtlantic Farm Credit.

“We applaud our farming families and our dedicated agricultural community. Thank you for your example of hard work and industry and for your dedication to producing the highest quality food possible,” Mulligan concluded .

In sharing more about the Chamber’s efforts on behalf of the county’s farmers, Kauffman pointed out that some friendly politicking was included at the Chamber’s Breakfast at the Fair this past summer. “We had a discussion of ag related issues with U.S. Congressman Glenn 'GT' Thompson, member of the House Agriculture Committee and Barron 'Boots' Hetherington, special advisor to Governor Corbett for agriculture.”

Commenting on the Farm-City job exchange, elementary farm tour, and open farm tour, Kauffman affirmed: “These events provided opportunities for the public to get up close and personal with modern food production.

“I want to offer special thanks to those who made this year's events a success: Kristen Grumbine and Laura LeBeau for their willingness to exchange jobs for a day, Reid and Diane Hoover and their entire family who opened their beautiful dairy farm to two days' worth of tours, our banquet sponsors, and the members of this year's LVCC Farm-City Committee.”

Concluding his remarks, Kauffman reminded the audience of farmers and non-farmers: “As the generations pass, the overwhelming majority of us become further and further removed from the day-to-day production of our food supply, so I invite you to open your eyes, ears, and yes, even your nose as you travel about this beautiful valley we call home, and enjoy Pennsylvania's number one industry, agriculture.”