Adams County Farm Bureau—a voice for farmers
Posted: December 10, 2012
Nancy Kammerer is recipient of the 2011 Adams County Farm Bureau Scholarship of $5000. Zach Sharrah is recipient of the Arthur B. Musselman Scholarship in the amount of $1000. Congratulations to both!
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is split into regional and county bureaus, with one based in Adams County. County bureaus hold annual meetings in September or October to determine priorities for agricultural policy, which are passed on to the state annual meeting to become policy for the state organization, a truly grassroots organization. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has dealt with recent legislative issues such as Sunday deer hunting, youth labor on farms and recovery assistance after the 2011 storms just to name a few.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau recently hit an all-time high membership reaching 55,398 members. The Adams County Farm Bureau (ACFB) is made up of 950 members, most of whose main income is from within the ag industry. As a whole the events sponsored by the bureau are policy based such as Meet the Candidates, but educational events are held for the public as well. Just recently the ACFB held an event to educate the public about farm smells. Events such as this are aimed to bring the public and producer closer together through mutual understanding.
Twice a year the ACFB holds an event titled Meet the Candidates for members to deeper understand local and state political candidates. The ACFB was also involved in hosting the ‘Know Your Food’ Farm Bill Forum, a small part in their efforts to gain knowledge and representation through the 2012 Farm Bill coming up for a vote, hopefully, later this fall.
Denise Shelleman has been involved in the Farm Bureau for the past five years and runs operations as the Executive Secretary. She believes the Farm Bureau offers “untouchable benefits. Along with a voice in Congress, the Farm Bureau helps us to develop and speak our minds on policies from a to z.” Members range from producers of wine and fruit to dairy and grain, “we take care of everyone; it’s vital to continuing the existence of farmers.”
Shelleman iterates the efforts of the Farm Bureau and says that they’re “trying to help ensure that the laws surrounding farming are going to enable people. We would like to be able to see children take over and now that’s not always easy to do.” The Farm Bureau sponsors two extremely popular events to encourage ag education—Ag in the Classroom and Mobile Ag Ed Science Labs.
Ag in the Classroom is a program that teaches teachers how to integrate ag into curriculums with hands-on ag projects. The ACFB sponsors two teachers to attend the week long workshop held at Penn State University Main Campus with eligibility of earning Act 48 hours and/or Penn State graduate credits. “Teachers that have gone have had great things to say, I would love to see more teachers apply for it” says Shelleman. Any teacher can attend although Shelleman says it is generally attended by elementary teachers who have broader curriculums.
The Mobile Ag Ed Science Labs are large self-contained mobile ag and education labs with twelve work stations. The six statewide labs travel around Pennsylvania visiting schools for a week at a time involving entire classrooms in science experiments relating to agriculture. Each lab staffs a full-time teacher and has visited Adams County on various occasions. Last year the lab visited Gettysburg Area Middle School and New Oxford Elementary School. Shelleman hopes that the lab will be back as often as possible, with a $2,100 per week expense this wonderful program is often difficult for schools to sponsor, but Shelleman is “excited we get to do this and help children. We hope to bring it to Adams County in honor of Guy Donaldson,” a local producer, former ACFB president, district director and vice president of the PA Farm Bureau.
The Adams County Farm Bureau also supports young agriculturists with two scholarships― the Arthur B. Musselman Scholarship at $1,000 and the Adams County Farm Bureau Scholarship at $5,000 for members’ children who are attending school in an ag related field.
Along with legislative and young grower support, the ACFB also supports those struggling with food access through the Food Checkout Day every February benefitting the Ronald McDonald House. This event is held on the 40th day of the year, a day that marks when most Americans have earned enough income to purchase their year worth of food supply. A collection of food and monetary donations is brought to the Ronald McDonald House where Shelleman said “the cupboards were empty this year. It’s nice we can support them and their organization and we’re always open to ideas for fundraising.” Last year, $60,000 was raised for the Ronald McDonald Houses in Danville, Hershey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton.
Along with the programs ACFB hosts there are also various financial benefits to being a farm bureau member such as insurance and health care discounts, services such as tax, business and legal as well as monthly publications and newsletters.
Coming up the ACFB is having its annual dinner which Shelleman says is her favorite event of the year, “I love the dinners, it allows me to touch base and visit with people.” As always, all members are invited to attend. Overall Shelleman sees the ACFB as an “amazing group of people to work with. We have the knowledge that you can pull from neighbors, some members have been around for decades― that’s intangible expertise.” Talking with the public and hearing people’s opinions is something Shelleman thrives off of, “Farm Bureau is expanding and they make me grow. Exposing yourself to as much as you can is the best way to grow.”