During a tour of a duck farm in Tilden Township on Thursday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner announced a plan to grow Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry.

Joe Jurgielewicz & Son, Ltd. welcomed Wagner to tour their family-owned farm that provides fresh and frozen premium duck and duck products to the food service and retail industries. The company employs more than 200 people and partners with 27 local farm families throughout the state to raise JJS Pekin ducks.

“In the duck business, we are continually working to meet the standards set by Harrisburg officials,” said Joey Jurgielewicz, director of customer fulfillment. “Far too often the rules and regulations set in Harrisburg are not compatible with what we do here on the farm due to lack of knowledge on agricultural issues when these regulations are drafted.”

The Jurgielewicz family believes Wagner understands the issues that farmers face and his leadership will allow farmers to be industry leaders and innovators.

Wagner toured the farm’s hatchery and viewed its operations. Holding Stan the duck, Wagner applauded the Jurgielewicz family “for this amazing operation.”

According to the farm’s website, www.tastyduck.com, “Joe Jurgielewicz & Son, Ltd. was founded on the core belief that all their ducks must be treated humanely. The ducks at the Jurgielewicz farm have been cared for by a veterinarian since Dr. Joe started the farm; his second son, Dr. Jim, earned his veterinary degree in 2015, and continues to ensure the Jurgielewicz ducks receive the highest quality duck health care.”

Wagner, who grew up on a farm, is running as a Republican candidate for Governor against Democrat candidate Gov. Tom Wolf. In the last four years as the State Senator for the 28th District, Wagner has visited an estimated 60 to 70 farm operations across the state. He said Pennsylvania is home to 58,000 farms.

“They are the economic engine not only for the Commonwealth but also for the individual communities in which that they sit,” said Wagner. “Agriculture contributes over $135.7 billion in economic benefit to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including supporting almost 580,000 jobs. That’s a big deal.”

Wagner announced a plan to enhance Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry that calls for rebranding the PA Preferred program to Homegrown PA to better market local Pennsylvania goods. The plan also calls for investment in workforce training, research and transportation, as well as address the restrictive regulatory environment in Harrisburg.

Wagner also emphasized having fundamental infrastructure in place to support further development and growth of the agricultural industry as well as supporting the future of farming with the workforce needed by providing educational opportunities for youth and providing more H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers visas for immigrant workers.

“Farmers want someone who cares about them and knows their struggles and has experience dealing with the same problems that they do. It’s time to stop treating our farmers in many situations like criminals… and started treating farmers like customers,” said Wagner. “I will partner with the agricultural industry and all of the great folks, and Stan (the duck), to make sure that we fix Harrisburg and we make sure the future of farming is absolutely front burner, growing and bright and vibrant in Pennsylvania.”

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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