Penn State news by
Penn State's student blog



Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding Talks PA Farm Bill, Pollinator Research At Penn State

Russell Redding, Pennsylvania’s secretary of agriculture, visited Penn State on Monday to speak with members of the College of Agricultural Sciences about the Pennsylvania Farm Bill. His visit also focused on research being conducted at the university on pollinators in the state and their role in agriculture.

Redding’s press conference hosted several other speakers, including Dean Richard Roush of the College of Agricultural Sciences, several researchers from the university, and a representative of the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers.

Roush introduced recent grant-funded work by the college, endowed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The College of Agricultural Sciences utilized a 2020 research grant that benefits beekeepers and a 2021 grant to develop a digital pollen library. Then, Roush introduced Secretary Redding.

“I say often that any time I’m here, particularly in a classroom, there’s comfort here,” said Redding, who’s a Penn State graduate. “There’s comfort in terms of what we know, who is here, who is our partner, our partners across the state and in our counties, particularly as we confront any number of issues in agriculture right now, that Penn State is our key partner.”

Redding emphasized that when discussing issues in relation to climate, society, loss of biodiversity, and increase of diversity in agriculture, it is extremely important to credit pollinators for their role in the ecosystem.

“We are one of the most diverse agricultural economies in the country, and that diversity is dependent on a lot of things, including pollinators,” said Redding.

The press conference aimed to highlight the work at Penn State completely with the help of funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The other speakers play key roles in the research on pollinators in support of agriculture and beekeeping.

“It’s the value of those who are looking at [pollinators] across disciplines that I very much appreciate,” said Redding.

In 2019, the PA Farm Bill was enacted to support growth within Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry. So far, it’s helped revitalize the state’s agricultural efforts.

“That Farm Bill was designed very intentionally to address gaps in some federal funding, gaps in programming, gaps in needs that we have identified in the economic impacts study that was done for Pennsylvania,” Redding said. “Which, for the first time in our state, gave us a really good baseline for ‘Who is agriculture?’, ‘What is agriculture?’, and ‘Where is agriculture?'”

Further expanding on Pennsylvania’s commitment to growing the agricultural industry, Redding discussed a recent federal Specialty Crop Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that did not include honey, an agricultural product that is “special to [Pennsylvania],” and is “important to us to have [honey] included.” Redding said that the Farm Bill would assist beekeepers and honey production via research conducted at Penn State.

Following Redding’s address, Dr. Christina Grozinger, professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, spoke about the importance of honey in Pennsylvania’s agricultural sector, as well as her research in honey and pollen diagnostics.

“With the funding from the Specialty Crop Program, we were able to establish a diagnostic system where we can take honey and pollen and use molecular and genomic approaches to identify floral sources of that honey with a goal of creating a low-cost service for beekeepers to be able to use to better understand and market the sources of their honey,” said Grozinger.

Natalie Boyle, an assistant research professor of entomology and the Director of Educational Programming at the Insect Biodiversity Center, also spoke about her work in the creation of Pennsylvania’s first digital pollen library that is funded by the 2021 grant. When the library launches later this spring, it will be available to the public for Master Gardeners, beekeepers, home gardeners, and more to use as a resource.

“We are very grateful for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to develop the state’s first digital pollen library which will describe and archive all of the morphologies of different pollen grains that are represented in Pennsylvania gardens in collaboration with the Arboretum at Penn State,” said Boyle. “We hope that this library will reinforce and enhance present and future research programming that evaluates the nutritional ecology of pollinating insects throughout Pennsylvania.”

In addition to the entomology faculty, Alyssa Curry shared her experience as an undergraduate student working in Dr. Grozinger’s lab. She talked about the importance of the project and pollinator nutrition.

Mark Gingrich, a representative of Pennsylvania State Beekeepers, spoke about Pennsylvania’s 65,000 managed bee colonies and over 6,300 registered beekeepers.

“Whether the bees are native or managed colonies, they are central to urban life on this planet and are part of our ecosystem that we rely on,” said Gingrich.

“You’ve had a chance to see sort of the spectrum here of the work that’s done, the partnership that it takes in Pennsylvania to protect our pollinators that was represented and captured in the development of a pollinator protection plan we can credit to Dr. Grozinger and her team several years ago,” Redding said in his final statement.

After his address, Redding toured the Penn State Lion’s Pantry to learn about how the university is addressing food insecurity on its campus.

Feeding America’s data analysis reports that 13.8% of Pennsylvanians face food insecurity in 2020 — a 30% increase from the year before — but projects that with proper policies, the overall food insecurity could fall to 12%.

Governor Tom Wolf designated $1 million of his proposed 2022-2023 budget to establish a program to support the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative that aims to fight food insecurity among students, especially amid the pandemic.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Mackenna Yount

Mackenna is a junior food science major from Manitou Springs, Colorado, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She loves food, is addicted to coffee, and can give you random facts or bad jokes that you didn't ask for. Ask her to bake gluten-free goodies so she has an excuse to try out new cupcake flavors. Mackenna can be contacted via Twitter @mackennayount (especially if you want to show off your best dad jokes) or you can shoot her an email at [email protected].

Dear Old State: A Love Letter: Max Zarbo’s Senior Column

“Throughout the rollercoaster that was our time together, one thing persisted: you always welcomed me with open arms.”

Penn State Alumna Haley McClain Hill Talks Winning Deal On ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’

As CEO of her own company, the Penn State alumna recently made a deal on the popular reality series.

[Photo Story] Paul Johnson Rolls Through Happy Valley In Transcontinental Run

A large group joined alum Paul Johnson on his trek though State College during his run from Los Angeles to New York City.

Follow on Another Platform