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Shuster is a friend to farmers

October 18, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER/Staff Correspondent

MERCERSBURG, PA. - Leaning on his green-and-white umbrella, ignoring the seeping water slowly soaking the cuffs of his pants, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., watched intently as Mike Rice fished a koi from the troughs at Mt. Parnell Fisheries and explained the market price of the small wriggling fish.

Waiting to be named a Friend of the Farm Bureau for the third time, Shuster ducked under his umbrella, wound among troughs of goldfish, carp and koi, all the while listening to farmers explain Pennsylvania's latest agricultural concerns.

For Rice and other farmers standing in the fishery on the rainy Tuesday morning, Shuster's attention showed why he was named a Friend of the Farm Bureau.

"We tell him (Shuster) things, he or his aides take notes and later we see results," said Rice, manager of Mt. Parnell Fisheries Inc. of Mercersburg and member of the Ag Advisory Board.

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Many of the farmers gathered at the fish farm are on the Ag Advisory Board that meets regularly with Shuster. For them, friendship with the congressman is a two-way street.

C. Eugene Wingert, a representative of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, said "no doubt about it" farmers are friends of Shuster at the ballot box, "he knows agriculture." Despite the dwindling number of farmers in the state, local farmer John Stoner said what matters is that "farmers do vote."

Shuster was one of many members of Congress named a Friend of the Farm Bureau this year, according to a press release from his office.

"I am always more proud to receive this award than others because I lived on a farm," Shuster said.

In a written statement, Wingert explained the state farm bureau nominated Shuster because of his voting record on American Farm Bureau Federation priority issues including the federal estate tax, CAFTA-DR (the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement) and the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

As he made his way out of the fishery, Shuster said he will continue fighting for farming interests in Congress.

"I will work to eliminate the estate tax and have fair export regulations," he said. "Why should American farmers have to pay more?"

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