HARRISBURG, Pa. — A new 25-member advisory board consisting of executive leaders representing the breadth of Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector and industries on which it depends — from the field to the point of retail sale – met today to chart a course for how the commonwealth can remove barriers to economic growth in the state’s food and fiber industries.
The new agriculture advisory board is part of a partnership established last year between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Team PA.
“These are extraordinary times in agriculture — full of opportunities and challenges,” said state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “But as we seek to capitalize on those opportunities and mitigate those challenges, we must be mindful that we are in the midst of a changing landscape. And given all of the changes in the world — if Pennsylvania agriculture is to compete and thrive — it is essential that we have input from experienced and respected industry leaders who can help guide us. Our partnership with Team PA and the leaders who are serving on this advisory board will give us that strategic counsel and expertise.”
Team Pennsylvania is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1997 to connect private and public sector leaders to achieve and sustain progress for Pennsylvania. The organization is committed to the belief that strong relationships between business and industry are necessary to facilitate partnerships for the betterment of Pennsylvania.
“Agriculture has been and will continue to be a critical component of our commonwealth’s economy,” said Ryan C. Unger, President and CEO of Team Pennsylvania Foundation. “Our partnership with the Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture Advisory Board will provide a strategic focus on this important work. We believe strongly that the private and public sectors achieve more when working together.”
Redding will serve as co-chair of the new Team PA Agriculture Advisory Board along with Scott Sechler, who is the chairman and president of Bell and Evans, which is a pioneer in the natural foods market as a leading producer of chickens raised without antibiotics. Sechler also serves on the board of directors for the Team Pennsylvania Foundation.
The mission of the advisory board and this collaborative, industry-led partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Team PA is to support Pennsylvania’s agricultural economic development efforts by deepening private sector engagement and creating opportunities for meaningful partnership by:
- Providing policy makers with the benefit of private industry’s knowledge, resources and networks to advance specified strategic goals;
- Enhancing the commonwealth’s ability to respond promptly and strategically to opportunities and to engage agricultural partners and stakeholders proactively;
- Coordinating support for expedited project completion, increasing efficiency and staff capacity;
- Increasing the visibility of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry; and
- Engaging industry leaders and stakeholders to support research and projects that benefit the industry and contribute toward its growth.
Among the priority projects the advisory board will address first are the department’s ongoing work to develop a 10-year strategic plan for the industry; identifying needs and opportunities to develop a trained workforce that can fill an estimated 75,000 expected vacancies in the food and fiber industries by 2025; and assessing inhibitors to growth by doing a comparative assessment of best economic development practices and strategies in other states.
“This is an exciting partnership with immense potential,” added Redding. “It puts agriculture at the table in a number of different economic development conversations and it connects our industry to a host of others, prompting many private sector leaders to think differently about the economic significance of our food and fiber industries to the commonwealth. And Team PA is the right model to do this work. They offer us the professionalism, the organization, and the reach to achieve our goals.”