It was my pleasure to attend the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 40th annual Agricultural Industry Banquet on Thursday, November 10. The banquet is always a great opportunity to see many of the thousands of people involved in Lancaster County agriculture. This includes not only the farmers, but people like equipment and feed suppliers, insurance carriers, accountants, bankers and even attorneys who support Lancaster County farmers and agriculture every day.
Every year, the banquet recognizes a family farm that has been in existence for over 100 years. This year’s century farm family was Weaverland Valley Farms of New Holland. In addition, the George C. Delp award has been presented annually since 1989 to a resident or business who has “made a significant contribution to the agricultural community. The award winners exemplify outstanding dedication and commitment to preserving and enhancing agriculture in Lancaster County”. This year’s George C. Delp award winner was Gene Garber of West Donegal Township. In 1988, Garber became the first farm owner to donate development rights to the Lancaster Farmland Trust. Since then, Garber has championed the preservation of Lancaster County farms through the Lancaster Farmland Trust and the Lancaster County Agricultural Preserve Board.
The keynote speaker was Dave White. Dave was a former head of the Federal National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and is now the founder of the 9b Group, an agricultural and environmental consulting group. White’s presentation highlighted how conservation efforts can work with and even enhance agricultural production. Many times people think property can be used for either conservation (things like soil conservation, protection of migratory birds or endangered animals) or can be used for agriculture but not both. White presented slide after slide of instances where improving conservation also helped the agricultural production on the property. This was especially true for no-till operations. White showed how no-till and using cover crops helps improve soil quality, increases water retention and reduces storm water and soil runoff. It is one thing to read about these efforts. It was very valuable to see photographs of these efforts at work.