Ag prof: Farming helps drive economy

LEWSIBURG–Education plays an important role in the ever-evolving role of agriculture and its economic impact on communities, according to Penn State University agriculture educator Richard T. Roush.

Roush, keynote speaker at the annual Breakfast Meeting on Agriculture on Wednesday, discussed how educational outreach helps farming.

He noted that jobs in agriculture are in demand.

“The opportunities for students in agriculture are fantastic,” he said. “Starting salaries are among the top five of all degrees.”

Roush, dean of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, said farm-related industries simply can’t fill all their jobs.

“The prosperity of agriculture drives the prosperity of communities,” he said.

From improving farming practices to helping protect streams from agricultural operations, education plays an important role.

But local agriculture and its industries should increasingly think global to reach markets that demand their products.

The breakfast was hosted by state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, who answered questions on agriculture and other issues.

One farmer told Yaw that costly regulations can make it difficult for small agricultural operations to operate.

As an example, he said he needed a costly permit just to sell eggs.

Yaw, a member of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said it’s an issue he’ll look into.

“I didn’t know you needed a permit to sell eggs,” he said.

Yaw also fielded questions on taxes and bridge repairs.

He said various proposals are on the table to reduce or eliminate property taxes.

“I’m not sure where it’s going to go,” he said.

Since becoming a lawmaker, he said he’s learned that fixing one problem often creates another one.

Yaw said there certainly exists waste in government.

And, while taxes are unpopular, they pay for services.

“If you want something, along the line you have to pay for it,” he said.

Yaw said Pennsylvania and Florida are the two states that don’t tax retirement benefits.

The state’s structurally deficient bridges are being addressed, thanks to Act 89, a transportation funding package passed by the state in 2013, he said.

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