Toomey visits farm show for crash course in agriculture

    Now that he’s been sworn into office as a statewide official, Senator Pat Toomey is working to brush up on Pennsylvania’s top industry: agriculture. The Republican admitted he’s got a lot to learn about agriculture, and that’s why he spent an afternoon at the Farm Show. “The most important thing I can do is meet with people who are actually in this field,” he said.  “Meet with farmers. Meet with the growers. Meet with the producers.” So that’s how Toomey spent the day. He talked to a beekeeper, farmers and veterinarians. He inspected a horse, hen and pig during the trip. Toomey said one thing he’s hearing again and again from farmers is concern about new EPA proposals regulating runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. “I think we all want to see a clean and healthy and vibrant Chesapeake Bay. But again, I think we want to be careful about how much of the existing problems we attribute to Pennsylvania farms, and how we go about changing their policies,” he said. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA earlier this week, in an attempt to stop the new regulations, which seek to cut back on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment flowing into the bay. Toomey also listed proposed EPA regulation of carbon emissions as a concern, alongside legislation that would involve the agency in local zoning discussions. The lawmaker was flanked by two state troopers during the visit, but that’s standard protocol for officials at the Harrisburg event, and not a response to the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others. Toomey called the attacks “rare and isolated,” and cautioned against reading too much into them. “I think public discourse is too coarse. You can sign me up for that opinion,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s any evidence that the coarse nature of public discourse triggered this event. As I said before, I think the evidence is clear this individual is deranged.”

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