Tell us about your farm:
I have a 125-acre crop farm, and I grow corn, soybeans, oats and hay. I have a lot of hay customers and sell to people who have horses in the area. I also have Christmas trees that I sell at the farm. Mostly it is individuals who come here and buy their tree, but I do some wholesale. I grew up on a farm next door to where I live, and my two brothers also have adjacent farms.
You’ve been involved in local government for a number of years.
Why did you first get involved?
I’d been a public servant all my life. I enlisted in the Marines to fight in Vietnam. My grandfather fought in World War I and my dad fought in World War II. After my military career, I worked for the Pennsylvania State Police for 25 years, but I farmed on the side the whole way through. I worked on my township’s planning commission for 13 years, and then ran as a supervisor after I retired. I did one term there and that led to my interest in county government. I’m in my third term as a Perry County Commissioner.
What do you like about being a commissioner?
I like helping people and being in a position that benefits residents. It’s a lot like Farm Bureau. You have a passion and it gets in your blood. Serving in local government is a challenge, but there is the satisfaction of trying to do things that benefit the community. Keeping taxes down, but still providing services to our residents is a challenge.
You are involved in Farm Bureau’s National and State Legislative Conferences. Why do you participate?
Agriculture is our number one industry in the state and here in Perry County. If you don’t get involved, you will get passed by. Sometimes you have to hold their feet to the fire and help them understand the issues that are important to farmers. Elected officials hear from a lot of people, but not always the farming community. That’s especially true in Washington D.C.
Why is PFB's Local Government Week important?
Good things can happen from face-to-face contact. When we bring farmers to our commissioner meetings, and they can meet our farmers, it’s a chance to bring up issues that might not otherwise get discussed. When you get face-to-face, there’s a better chance of some negotiation. It’s also a learning experience for both sides, and I think that is a good thing.
You sit on the FARMER Committee. What makes you interested in that committee?
I had attended FARMER events in the past, and then I was asked to participate. It gives farmers the chance to look at how legislators are doing. It also gives us the chance to support those legislators who have a working knowledge of agriculture and work with us. It’s a good communication tool.
Are you optimistic about the future of agriculture?
I’m cautiously so. There are a lot of things in the works that could have a major impact on farming. But what we do with research through Penn State keeps us competitive and helps us keep our food costs low. We have to make sure there is not too much overreach by government. We have to stay alert and stay on guard to make things go right.
Lastly, why are you a Farm Bureau member?
I think it is an important organization. Farmers are dwindling in numbers but we support a growing number of people. The most important part is keeping that industry intact and working with our government. You have to be proactive. You can’t be reactive. Farm Bureau does a good job of being proactive.