Governor Edward G. Rendell has announced that Pennsylvania is helping to shape regional and national policy to improve agriculture and to enhance cooperation with the states' dairy industries by hosting the summer conference of the Northeastern Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NEASDA)."Pennsylvania has a strong agriculture industry and this conference has been a great opportunity to shape the policies in the Northeast to ensure continued success," Governor Rendell said in a statement. "Working with
other states, we can directly affect federal policy, such as the Farm Bill, to make sure Pennsylvania can compete in both national and international markets." State Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff, who serves as president of NEASDA, chaired the meetings, which covered topics such as avian influenza, crop insurance, renewable energy, food exports and the federal Farm Bill. Secretary Wolff signed a memorandum of understanding with New York and Vermont to make the region's dairy industry more competitive. "Our three states' industries have a lot of similarities," Wolff said. "And with the importance they represent throughout the country, producers in the Northeast have an opportunity to gain more market share through
coordination of resources with the states working together as one." The Northeast's dairy industry represents 16 percent of the total annual milk production of the 23 largest producing states. The Northeast's position within the dairy industry remains strong despite intense global
competition and explosive growth in states like California, Idaho and New Mexico. Under the agreement, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont will establish a vision and promote profitability for the region's dairy industry, use aggressive efforts to market the region to producers and processors, perform cooperative dairy research within the state institutions, and combine the resources of the three state departments of agriculture. "This memorandum will create an excellent resource for the Northeastern dairy producers," Wolff said. "By working together, we can offer dairy farmers as many resources as possible to make their businesses successful."