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Turkey farmer named Farm Bureau president

October 14, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A second-generation Willow Hill, Pa., farmer was named president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau at its 53rd annual meeting Monday night at the Lighthouse Restaurant.

James Junkin, who was the organization's vice president this past year, took over the reins for the farmers' lobbying group from Titus Martin of Fayetteville, Pa., whose term expired.

A contract farmer who raises turkeys for Pilgrim's Pride, Junkin said one of his priorities will be "educating people in general about farming practices" at a time when rural development is bringing more people in contact with farmers.

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More than half of the 448,000 acres in Franklin County are still farmland, according to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Statistics Service.

"I can see where water management is going to become an issue," Junkin said. Although a long drought ended last year, Junkin said water usage will one day return to the forefront as residential and commercial interests and farmers compete for the resource.

"The farm bureau is the voice of the farmer to the regulatory and legislative process," said Martin, who has served four different times as president of the county bureau. "Our policy book is our Bible."

Each year the county bureau votes on issues it wishes to see action on at the local, state and federal levels.

Monday, the membership at the banquet meeting voted on three national policies, nine state initiatives and one local measure.

On the local level, the farmers voted in favor of recommending that township zoning ordinances be reviewed at least once every 10 years.

Among the state initiatives approved, the membership voted to recommend that the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau pursue ways to obtain quality, affordable health insurance for members. The membership also voted in favor of recommending that taxes be increased, if necessary, rather than the state rely on gambling proceeds to balance the budget.

One state measure defeated would have required sellers to reveal to owners when non-organic waste was applied to land.

State and federal level policies approved by county farm bureaus are eventually voted on by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau, according to Martin. Those organizations then lobby for action by state and federal regulators and legislators.

Franklin County farm Bureau has about 1,000 members, according to Martin, and five delegates to the state farm bureau.

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