Garden Spot FFA attends Univest Ag Summit Conference

On January 26, the Agriculture Science 2 class attended a Univest Ag Summit Conference. The conference focused on economics and finances in agriculture and offering tips to improve in the future.

Univest Bank and Trust Co. is investing in local farmers and ag business owners and helping to inform them with ways to improve their finances. Mr. Dale Hershey is the Director of Agricultural Lending at Univest Bank and Trust Co. and he also serves on the Agriculture Advisory board at Lampeter Strasburg. He invited the Agriculture Science 2 class to learn more about agricultural business and finance.

The conference consisted of several speakers from different areas and different fields in agriculture. The first speaker was Dr. David Kohl, who received his M.S. and PhD from Cornell University. He is now a professor at Virginia Tech, president of AgriVision, part owner of Homestead Creamery, and travels all over the U.S., Canada, and many other countries speaking about agriculture economics. 

Dr. Kohl spoke about ways to achieve success in the currently low ag economy. He gave on overview of global economic indicators and other things that affect the agriculture economy such as U.S. agriculture exports, the U.S. economy, economic bubbles, and net income. Dr. Kohl also emphasized ways that local business owners and farmers can achieve success through specific practices. He encouraged farmers to know their cost of production and focus on the value of their product. Dr. Kohl stressed the need for excellent character and attitude instead of aptitude about their work. He encouraged writing goals and business plans.

Chris Pierce, President of Heritage Poultry Management Services, also spoke at the conference. Mr. Pierce spoke about egg production in Lancaster County and the small farms that Heritage works with. He described the customers desire for cage free and free range chickens. 

He emphasized the need to satisfy the customers by ensuring them that their eggs are coming from good farms. Heritage is working with small family farms to produce the best quality egg and help the customers understand were their eggs are coming from. Mr. Pierce stated that large farms have influence but small farms can change and achieve things that large farms cannot. He encouraged staying small, local, and working to produce the best quality products.

State Representative, Dave Zimmerman also spoke about agriculture related activities happening in Washington D.C. with President Trump. He stated that different regulations are being to changed to help farmers and others in the ag field. He shared that they are diligently working to share the voices of farmers and workers in agriculture to help others outside of the field understand.

Dr. Kohl also shared his experience with FFA, and how he would not be where he is today without FFA. He credits FFA for his speaking, leadership, and work ethic skills. Dr. Kohl encouraged the FFA members in the Agriculture Science 2 class to build strong relationships in FFA now, because the relationships built now will impact our future. At the end of the conference, Dr. Kohl asked each member to share something they learn during the conference. Some members shared specific facts such as the number of farms in China compared to the US, 3 out of every 7 people that buy ag products produced in the U.S live in Asia, or there are 310 million hens in America. Others shared things like the leader of China worked on a hog farm for 10 years and leadership equals trust.

This conference gave students an opportunity to learn about finances, careers in agriculture, and much more.

--By Danae Ranck, Garden Spot FFA reporter

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