As the Pennsylvania Farm Show opens Saturday, the agricultural voyeurism is under way.
One new exhibit shows farm animals fit for consumption in their husbandry habitats.
Chris Herr, with the group PennAg Industries, says it’s a kind of edgy way to show whence the eggs and bacon come.
“Cages for laying hens, and crates for sows … we thought, well, we have nothing to apologize for,” Herr said. “We’re going to show the general public what’s inside those steel barns that they see up and down the highways of Pennsylvania.”
There’s also state-of-the art farm machinery on display. Lebanon County grain farmer Daryl Alger, standing by a $300,000 combine, last week recounted the steps of soybean harvest.
“And then when a soybean matures in the fall when the leaves fall off and they turn dark brown , or they’re not really a pretty crop, I’d say, for the consumer, but that’s what’s left, and that’s what a farmer wants,” he explained.
While many exhibits focus on farming practices, at least one section is devoted to making those practices work for the environment.
David Wise from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will speak at the event about his work with farmers to fight river pollution by creating forested buffers.
“Pretty simply, an area along a stream where trees are planted so that in time the area would be forested as opposed to be in production or being under hoof with livestock,” he suggested.
The show, which continues through Jan. 14 and is staged in Harrisburg, is billed as the nation’s largest indoor agricultural exhibition. It draws some 400,000 visitors and features about 6,000 animals.