CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Members of the agriculture community gathered in Centre County on the morning of Monday, Aug. 8 for the fourth annual Agriculture Summit, hosted by U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-15).

“The question that’s always out there is, “who will be the next generation that will feed us?” Thompson said.

Thompson led a discussion with leaders in Pennsylvania’s agriculture community at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology. The panelists discussed how established farmers can help integrate new members into the agriculture community.

“Schools that have those agriculture programs are just, they do such a great job of helping some kids prepare to work in agriculture, but for others just helping kids understand where their food comes from,” Thompson said.

CPI Horticulture and Landscaping student Cale Rice said he knows firsthand the effect ag-education can have on a student. He touched on the importance of a varied education during the panel.

“Showing that agriculture is more than just working really hard on a farm because there’s a lot of different areas they can go into according to their own interests,” Rice said. “So, I guess showing that it’s more than just planting seeds in the ground and watching stuff grow.”

According to a 2020 commission report by the PA Department of Agriculture and the PA Department of Education, 125 high schools and career and technology centers offered DOE-approved agriculture education programs, but there’s a need for more educational opportunities in the field.

“Agriculture in schools doesn’t always have to be a class or course,” Dean of Penn State Agricultural Sciences Richard Roush said. “We just need to make sure we incorporate more examples about agriculture.”

With inflation continuing to impact the agriculture industry, the panelists also discussed how to help farmers during this time.

“Increase our domestic energy production to bring down diesel fuel costs to get the ingredients for fertilizer manufacturing,” Thompson said.

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“It’s exciting,” Thompson said. “The fact that we host what really is the premiere outdoor agriculture showcase that highlights that American agriculture and Pennsylvania agriculture is all about science, technology and innovation.”

The summit comes ahead of the 2022 Ag Progress Days.