Pennsylvania Rural Leaders Deliver A Timely Message: Federal Policies Are Hurting Rural America

New committee made up of Pennsylvania rural leaders will highlight how rural Pennsylvanians have been left behind

Harrisburg, PA. – To give a greater voice to Pennsylvania’s struggling agricultural and rural communities, Rural America 2020, today announced members of its Pennsylvania steering committee comprised of elected officials, farmers, agri-business professionals and rural leaders from across the commonwealth. Rural America 2020 is a bipartisan non-profit dedicated to promoting policies that help rural communities in Pennsylvania and other states.

“The Pennsylvania steering committee will raise awareness on national policies that are harming farmers and rural Pennsylvanians and be a voice for our small towns,” said John Scott, a 7th generation Pennsylvania farmer and a member of the steering committee.We will advocate for policies that realize the economic success of rural America is essential to moving this country forward.  Farmers have shouldered the brunt of the Administration’s trade wars. With essential export markets lost, farmers have suffered and in turn rural communities have suffered.”

The announcement of the Rural America 2020 Pennsylvania steering committee follows the announcement of steering committees in Michigan and Ohio. Together, these committees will provide a powerful voice for rural communities in the most important 2020 states.

Steering committee members include:

Pennsylvania State Senator Judy Schwank is committed to serving the people of her community. Her passion for promoting sustainable growth, prosperity, and preserving agricultural integrity has been exemplified through her many accomplishments in public service. After receiving BS and M.Ed degrees from Penn State, PA State Senator Judy worked as a Berks County horticultural agent for Penn State Cooperative Extension and established the Master Gardener Program. She became director of the Berks County Cooperative Extension Program in 1991 and was elected as the first female Berks County Commissioner in 2000. Judy’s interest in creating a sustainable Pennsylvania has drawn her to public service roles in the government and nonprofit realms. During her two terms as Berks County Commissioner, Judy played a leading role in achieving major upgrades and renovations at the Berks Heim nursing home, a needed resource for the county’s most vulnerable senior citizens. She was also a strong proponent of land preservation and conservation in the county helping to make Berks County a national leader in the number of highly productive acres and farms preserved. In the PA Senate, Judy is a member of the Democratic Caucus Leadership Team and serves as Minority Vice-Chair of the Appropriations Committee. She is Minority Chair of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and was recently appointed by Governor Tom Wolf to serve as a member of the PA Farm Show Commission. Judy is a member of the Health and Human Services, Aging and Youth, Game and Fisheries and Local Government Committees. She is Senate Co-Chair of the Women’s Health Caucus and serves as a member of the Board of Governors for the PA State System of Higher Education.

State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski has served the 121st state House District since 2007. His work as a legislator focuses on property tax relief, improving education, making quality health care more affordable and accessible, and creating good paying jobs for the middle class. In Harrisburg, he currently serves in leadership as the Democratic Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. Prior to joining the legislature, Eddie was a teacher, union leader, and lead singer for many area bands. A Wilkes-Barre resident, Pashinski has four children and seven grandchildren.

Steve Crawford was born and raised in Columbia County. He began his public affairs career representing the PA Farm Bureau before the General Assembly, then as a high ranking official in the Department of Agriculture during the Administration of Governor Robert P. Casey. Crawford worked to bring rural and urban and Republican and Democratic interests together to pass laws creating agriculture and economic development programs that remain some of the commonwealth’s leading ag and rural initiatives. He continued as top staffer in the legislature for 12 years, including Executive Director of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and then Senior Advisor for Agriculture and Rural Issues. Governor Ed Rendell tapped Crawford to be his Secretary for Legislative Affairs and Chief of Staff. After eight years in the Governor’s Office, he joined Wojdak Government Relations, and today serves as the President, representing dozens of clients, including those involved in agribusiness, rural broadband initiatives, and rural economic development.

Hannah Smith-Brubaker farms in the rural Juniata Valley of Pennsylvania. She and her partner Debra run a multi-generational organic produce and pastured-livestock farm with their children who are the twelfth generation to farm in the area. The farm’s mission is to connect people to their food, the earth, and each other.

Hannah formerly served as Pennsylvania Agriculture Deputy Secretary; is an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow; and is passionate about the power of local food systems to restore, sustain, and transform even the most unlikely of relationships. 

Hannah has testified before the US Congress on organic and sustainable agriculture, with prior speaking engagements at the Wall Street Journal’s Global Food Forum, the White House Council on Rural Affairs Hearings, and the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization Food Summit on behalf of National Geographic.

Tim Wolff was raised on a dairy farm in rural Columbia County.  He recently worked as interim manager and senior advisor to the PA-9 congressional campaign of his father and former state Secretary of Agriculture, Denny Wolff.  Previously, Tim served as a staffer to U.S. Senator Bob Casey and interned for former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. Additionally, he has worked for a Lebanon County renewable energy development company, and his first campaign position was managing the rural vote for PA’s Obama-Biden campaign in 2008.                                                       

Daniel Foster has had two passions passed on from both sides of his family: agriculture and teaching. It makes sense that he has dedicated his life to advancing agricultural education to help all discover the abundance of opportunity in food, fiber, and natural resources opportunities. He is currently an associate professor in agricultural and extension education at The Pennsylvania State University. He previously taught secondary agriculture in Willcox, Arizona. Daniel has a Masters in Human and Community Resource Development and a Doctorate degree in Agricultural and Extension Education from The Ohio State University.

John Scott is a 7th generation Pennsylvania farmer. He is a retired dairy farmer and his sons have transitioned the family farm to a beef and crop operation. John is currently serving as an Farm Service Agency County Committeeman, on the County Conservation District Board, and on the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau County Board. He served as Western Regional Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for eight years. He also served for 20 years on his local school board. He is a graduate of both Delaware Valley College and Westminster College.