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Farmers Responding To Challenges By Adapting

October 13th, 2019

With family farms and dairy operations declining in Potter County, Penn State Extension agronomy educator Nicole Santangelo finds herself as busy as ever. She was among the presenters during last week’s Potter County Local Government Day. It’s an annual gathering hosted by PSU Extension leaders and educators to keep public officials apprised of the organization’s broad range of services and their impact on the citizenry. Santangelo’s presentation touched on a number of steps being taken to help the county’s number one industry to adapt to challenges that range from poor economics and changes in consumers’ habits, to marketing obstacles and a growing wave of consolidation.

She said some agriculturalists have been evolving to “contract farming,” resulting in potatoes, organic corn and other crops being produced for specific buyers. One contract has been signed to lease farmland for solar energy collectors, Santangelo added. She has also been investigating alternative crops that could be profitable to local farmers, from soybeans, carrots and mint, to cucumbers and hemp — although producers might encounter challenges getting the products to market. Meanwhile, Penn State Extension is helping farmers with pest management, crop research, soil testing, cover crops, livestock management and many other topics.

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