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Farming issues topic of breakfast session

MIKE REUTHER/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Future Farmers of America members attend the agricultural breakfast held by state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, in Trout Run.

Farmers and others attending an agricultural breakfast meeting held by state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, Thursday had the chance to chew over numerous issues presented to them by Penn State Extension officials.

Extension staff comprising a panel noted the challenges in agriculture and the farming life at the event in Trout Run.

Andrew Fairchild noted the rising operating expenses farmers face with high fuel, equipment, and livestock.

“We are looking at a year that is pretty tight,” he said.

Higher costs throughout the economy create a kind of domino effect that impacts many aspects of agriculture from transportation to electricity expenses.

Cynthia Polich noted the increasing cases of suicide in the U.S. over the past two years, which have affected many farmers who face difficult times and stress levels.

She said Penn State Extension is striving to bring more awareness to the problem. Part of that involves removing the stigma of needing help for mental health problems.

On a more positive note, Alex Armstrong, a 4H educator, noted the many educational programs and activities offered to students through her organization.

“There are 20 clubs in Lycoming County,” she said.

Some of the opportunities through 4H include camps and projects for members in which to participate.

“I’m very proud of our 4H programs and what we’ve accomplished,” she said.

Yaw outlined some of the legislative action directed toward agriculture in the past year or so.

He noted that he and other lawmakers fought to secure funding for programs that help farmers prevent stream pollution.

Construction of riparian buffers, for example, can help stop phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from agricultural operations into streams that feed the Chesapeake Bay.

Yaw pointed out the state has been mandated to comply with Chesapeake Bay cleanup requirements by 2025.

“It’s two-and-a-half years away,” he said. “We haven’t done much about it.”

In addition, Yaw said legislation was redone to prevent lawn fertilizer pollution.

“It runs off and creates a problem,” he said.

Yaw said as chair of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania the issue that he perceives to be foremost on the minds of people is extending broadband to rural areas.

Hearings on the topic, he said, created much discussion.

He said his hope is that his 23rd Legislative District which includes Lycoming and Tioga counties and has grown from 3,600 square miles to 4,300 square miles will receive its fair share of funding to expand high-speed internet.

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