Think of the Cumberland County Farm Bureau as a shining needle in a haystack.
The agency recently came away as top award winner at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 65th annual meeting, which was held at the Hershey Lodge.
Its seven awards included the Farm Bureau Proud Award, the highest honor PFB bestows upon any of the state’s 54 county farm bureaus.
“The volunteer efforts of all of our farmers through their county Farm Bureaus were outstanding over the past year, but the Cumberland County Farm Bureau demonstrated the highest level of excellence in a wide variety of program areas,” PFB President Rick Ebert said.
“Cumberland County farmers consistently participated in multiple agricultural events and built relationships with elected officials at the state, local and national level, while also expanding outreach efforts in their local community and with the media,” Ebert added.
The Cumberland County Farm Bureau also received the Overall Achievement Award for county bureaus with 401 or more farmer members.
That award salutes a county bureau for its outstanding performance in the six program areas evaluated by PFB.
Cumberland County also took home President’s Awards in the areas of policy development and implementation, leadership development, agriculture promotion, services and media relations and member communications, PFB announced.
PFB says it is the state’s largest farm organization, with a volunteer membership of nearly 60,000 farm and rural families representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.
As reported by CPBJ earlier this year, Cumberland is among four midstate counties that have seen an increase in the number of farmers younger than 35, bucking trends elsewhere across Pennsylvania.
Among those young farmers is Cumberland County Farm Bureau President Mathew Meals, 33, of R-Valley Farms LLC. The Mifflin Township farmer also served as state Department of Agriculture deputy secretary for animal agriculture under the Corbett administration.
“Cumberland County did excellent,” Meals said in an interview about the meeting and awards, praising the bureau’s board and members for their hard work.
“I’ve told the board the bar has been raised,” Meals said with a laugh. “We’re going to have to up our game for next year.”
Hundreds of farmers from across the state attended the annual meeting earlier this month to set policy for the statewide organization.
In other action, Juniata County farmer Chris Hoffman was elected PFB vice president by delegates at the meeting. Hoffman had served in the role over the previous year to fill the seat vacated by Ebert after the Westmoreland County dairy farmer was elected president at last year’s meeting.
Hoffman, who raises hogs and chickens on his farm near McAlisterville, has been heavily involved with PFB for more than a decade, the agency said. He also was voted in as a new member of the Penn State Board of Trustees earlier this year.