The brisk temperature didn’t keep many away as friends of Delaware Agriculture trickled into Harrington Fire Hall last Friday morning for an early morning breakfast. It was nice to see so many youthful faces present from 4-H State Teen Council representatives, and DE FFA State Officers, to Del-Tech FFA members.
Jan Seitz, Director of Extension, jumped right into the program by introducing the 2012 George M. Worrilow Award winner, Dr. Jack Gelb. Known for his poultry research and publications, he is the Department Chair and a Professor for Avian Virology at UD. Seeming very humble, Dr. Gelb spoke about his interest in agriculture without coming from ag roots. Noting a strong interest in science, he rode the “1st green wave” of ecology and attracted to ag because of the inspiring people in faculty and extension areas. He also felt he could make a difference in ag. His comments really resonated with me, especially after the recent Yahoo article which cited agriculture as the number one most useless degree. The author obviously never met Dr. Jack Gelb and most likely has never bit into a juicy tender chicken breast grown on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Scheduled to headline the program was the Governor, Jack Markell and our senior U.S. Senator, Tom Carper. The Governor was a no-show and the Senator was late but the show went on. Replacing the Governor, DE Secretary of Agriculture-Ed Kee, spoke on the new programs recently initiated for DE farmers such as DRIP and the Young Farmer Program. He also announced that the recent CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) regulations
DE proposed were officially approved. Senator Carper finally arrived and reminisced on the environmental woes of the Inland Bays, which occurred during the Castle administration and derived the need for a Nutrient Management Commission
. The members of this commission were to represent various sectors of all involved in nutrient management processes; requiring all to have a seat at the table and collaborate on a state plan. With the recent CAFO proposal being approved, Carper called this a huge accomplishment and wanted to honor the chairmen of the board, who have served since its inception. He presented a “Congressional Record” to Dave Baker, Vice-Chair and Bill Vanderwende, Chair (and my grandfather).
From Left: Sen. Tom Carper, Dave Baker-New Castle County Farmer, Bill Vanderwende-Sussex County Farmer
He ended by mentioning economic prosperity and that our economy is rebounding; not due to the usual consumer buying and housing industries but instead due to manufacturing and agriculture industries
. He said he is hopeful about our future and we should only be concerned with 2 questions going forward: How will we feed ourselves and fuel ourselves?
He stated agriculture has the answer in biofuel and efficiency
. Isn’t it a shame the Yahoo author
wasn’t sitting in the audience….?