Shapiro, Redding discuss the future of Pa. agriculture under new administration at 2023 Farm Show
‘I’ll be a governor who makes AG a priority,’ Shapiro said
State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding speaks at public officials day at the 107th Pennsylvania Farm Show (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).
HARRISBURG — State officials, lawmakers, and agricultural stakeholders gathered at the 107th Farm Show on Wednesday to hear from the incoming Shapiro administration about the future of agriculture in Pennsylvania.
The luncheon, which took place in the Banquet Hall of the bustling Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, featured several speakers, including state Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro, and Penn State University President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi.
Today is Public Officials Day at the PA Farm Show. I will be here most of the day where Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro is expected to speak shortly along with Ag. Secretary Russell Redding. pic.twitter.com/22kC0fBpBH
— Cassie Miller (@Wordsby_CassieM) January 11, 2023
Redding, reflecting on his eight-year tenure under the Wolf administration and the 2023 Farm Show’s “Rooted in Progress” theme, called his experiences “humbling,” but added that there is more work to be done to position Pennsylvania’s $132.3 billion agriculture industry for the future.
“We can’t tell the story of agriculture, or Pennsylvania without us, and then you can’t talk about the future without us,” Redding said of the industry.
Shapiro announced Tuesday that Redding — along with current Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn — would continue to serve in their roles under the new administration.
“When we had the opportunity to visit during my transition, there was only one clear choice to make for our next Secretary of Agriculture and that’s Russell Redding,” Shapiro said on Wednesday.
Redding, who has led efforts to create the first-ever state Farm Bill, bolster Pennsylvania’s agricultural workforce, support the mental health of farmers and agricultural producers, incorporate sustainable practices at farms across the commonwealth, make Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement self-sustaining, and address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, said that he was “honored by the opportunity to work with the Shapiro administration to support our farmers and rural communities.”
Shapiro, who spoke only briefly, said that his administration would continue to prioritize initiatives such as rural broadband access and the elimination of “needless” regulatory hurdles for agricultural producers in Pennsylvania.
“I’ll be a governor who makes AG a priority,” Shapiro said. “I want you to know that when I look at AG, I see, of course, food on our tables, but I see the future, as I said, of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
With Redding continuing at the helm of the Department of Agriculture, the agency will “ensure farmers have the financing and investments necessary for agricultural production, develop technology hubs for farmers to access new technology, and invest in agricultural infrastructure,” according to a statement from Shapiro’s transition team.
In a Tuesday statement, Redding said that “with over 20 years as a leader in the agricultural sector, I know Pennsylvania farmers’ critical role as job creators, the direct line between their success and the food we eat every day – as well as the serious challenges they face and the work that needs to be done to support them.”
Several environmental groups have already weighed in on the nominations, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which said it was “thrilled” that Redding and Dunn would continue to lead their respective departments under the new administration.
In a statement Patrick McDonnell, president of PennFuture, a statewide environmental advocacy organization, and former Department of Environmental Protection secretary, said that Shapiro’s decision to retain Dunn and Redding reflects “a dedication to continuing the Commonwealth’s significant progress conserving our natural resources, funding clean water initiatives, and supporting farmers in the transition to more sustainable management practices.”
“Both are widely supported on both sides of the political aisle and have served the Commonwealth with integrity and innovative ideas,” McDonnell said.
Trisha Salvia, interim director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) in Pennsylvania, echoed McDonnell’s comments about the decision to retain Redding and Dunn.
“As the consummate public servant, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding has been a steady, guiding force at the helm of one of Pennsylvania’s most important industries,” Salvia said. “This would be the third administration for Russ Redding to serve as Secretary of Agriculture, and he has been a stalwart leader and advocate for farmers across the Commonwealth since day one.”
She continued: “As Pennsylvania’s farmers continue to face economic, social, and environmental challenges, we at CBF believe that with Russ Redding’s leadership, the future of agriculture in the Commonwealth is in more than capable hands.”
Of Dunn’s nomination, Salvia said:
“Throughout her career, Cindy Dunn has been a clean water champion and as Secretary worked tirelessly so that Pennsylvanians can get the most enjoyment from the 2.2 million acres of state forest land and 124 state parks that DCNR oversees.
“Under Secretary Dunn’s leadership, DCNR has made planting streamside buffers a priority practice and has been working with the Keystone 10 Million Trees Partnership to improve the quality of local rivers and streams.”
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