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Now more than ever, support Pennsylvania farmers

It is really hard to believe that in two months I will place my Lycoming County Dairy Princess crown and sash in my memories box, on the shelf. My heart and life are full of new friendships, countless memories, thousands of miles traveled and many worn masks from this past year! I have been blessed with so much but most importantly I am beyond grateful for the dairy farmers — and all aspects of agriculture. Please remember that behind every farmer, no matter their gender, is typically a spouse or significant other, children, extended family and/or the countless other farming entities/representatives that provide for our animals who in turn provide for each and everyone of us.

As a result of this past year’s pandemic, our lives have all changed and been impacted in different ways. What has been the most eye-opening and breathtaking for me is identifying how many people still did not realize that behind every grocery store’s backroom there is more to the story as to how meat and dairy arrived to that grocery store. Whether you eat meat, drink milk or refer to yourself as a vegetarian, the facts are that there are countless hands that led to placement of your desired foods in the grocery stores.

You have probably heard about PA Preferred and Code 42. Please look for those logos to reassure yourself that you are buying local. The PA Preferred is a big checkmark. Code 42 confirms that your dairy products came from a farm within Pennsylvania. Our state is where it is, folks. Outside of that, you are not buying local. With Code 42 you will also find the plant code of which milk processing plant the milk was bottled at. Please support and buy local.

This past year has been hard for all of us, in so many ways. I am sure that you get tired of hearing about the need to help farmers but I challenge you to note the hours they work. Many of them have top-notch work ethics because they are reliable, dependable, can work independently and as a team, have respect for their animals and land, need to have patience, have to be good managers, plus they have to have the willingness to accept change.

Change is inevitable for growth of their business, the constant fluctuation in costs, technology pushing them to advance, government stipulations, and the list goes on, with each farming specialty having its own rollout of needed changes. No matter how hard times are, they continue to accomplish one thing which is to provide their product and produce for others.

I challenge you to slow down, have patience with the farmers on the road as they are longing to clean-up and prepare their fields to start the long haul to harvesting season, not only for their animals but for all of us. Please remember while you can see them in their machinery, they may not be able to see every one of you. Have respect, they have a family that awaits them at the end of the day. All too often we do not get to see our farmer(s) unless we meet them in the field for supper as every hour with our hardworking loved one is a treasure.

Katelyn “Gert” Taylor of the Elimsport/Montgomery area is the Lycoming County Dairy Princess.

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