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Secretary of Agriculture Sam Hayes reflects on his years in Harrisburg

January 21, 2003 is the day Secretary of Agriculture Sam Hayes comes back home to Warriors Mark. His six years as Agriculture Secretary having ended, he is looking forward to having his zip code be 16877. The secretary took time to speak with The Daily Herald on his six years as the agriculture secretary.
“I am leaving the position on my own iniative,” said Hayes of his term coming to an end. “I had submitted my paperwork to retire because my heart yearns for home. I have enjoyed my 35 years of service and have been on the road for most of them. I greatly enjoyed my term as Secretary of Agriculture, I relished every moment of it, but I am destined to return home.”
Last week when The Daily Herald spoke with Governor-elect Ed Rendell, the incoming chief executive said he was looking at Hayes among others as a candidate to continue in the position. Hayes has told the Governor-elect that he has no intrest to continue as the Agriculture Secretary.
When asking the secretary about the ‘feather in his cap’ moment as secretary and he couldn’t pin one thing down.
“We tried to be wholeistic with the department,” said Hayes. “All missions have to be comprehended and need strong leadership. When I was asked by Governor Ridge to come back to Harrisburg, there was a whole range of varied missions that the Agriculture embarked on.”
Promoting Pennsylvania Agriculture was one of Hayes first missions.
“We came up with several themes for our products,” said Hayes. “We promoted the theme, ‘Pennsylvania Agriculture: Products for the Planet’ because the planet starts here in Pennsylvania. We promoted Pennsylvania Agriculture products that have been sold in Pennsylvania, throughout the United States and throughout the world. We promoted our produce products with the ‘Pennsylvania Produce, Simply delicious, grown here’ campaign, We promoted school lunch safety with the campaign ‘Good learners need good food, we have promoted safe farming with the ‘Begin safe end dafe campaign among many others. We have been out promoting the good work of the Pennsylvania Agricultural industry.”
Hayes has had the oversight on many other accomplishments by the Agriculture Department.
“We are a leader on laboratory work in the agricultural community,” said Hayes. “Pennsylvania livestock is now tuberculosis free. In the 1980’s poultry influenza wiped out 10 million birds to infection. Last year, we lost fewer than 200,000 birds. Pennsylvania has the best egg quality in the world. Ninety percent of Pennsylvania eggs are in a salminilla free enviornment. Researchers from around the world come to Pennsylvania to learn what we are doing to make agricultural products safe.”
Hayes recently returned from a trade mission to Puerto Rico to promote Pennsylvania livestock.
“On our mission to Puerto Rico, we wrapped up a deal for Puerto Rico to import Pennsylvania heffers, sheep and beef bulls. We have spent $2.7 million in trade shows and trade missions around the world and have come back to Pennsylvania with $19.7 million in sales of Pennsylvania products. That is a six dollar return for every dollar invested. It is very tough to get a return like that in any investment.”
Under Hayes direction, Pennsylvania has moved to the top in the nation in many agricultural fields.
“We are at the top of the class in farmland preservation,” said the secretary. “We have preserved more farmland than any other state in the nation. We have the largest dairy show in the nation, the All-American Dairy Show. We are the top in the nation in crop insurance for our farmers. After the drought in 1999, payments were made to farmers to help them have a successful 2000 crop.These are just some of the areas where Pennsylvania Agriculture has risen to the top throughout the country.”
Hayes has led the Agriculture Department into some great programs that benefit Pennsylvanians.
“The Department of Agriculture has increased its contributions to food banks around the Commonwealth,” said Hayes. “There was a 75 percent increase of contributions in 2002. Our Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Seniors is one of the leading programs in the nation. Seniors have the ability to go to farmers markets and get produce at a low cost.”
In six years, Secretary Hayes has projected Pennsylvania Agriculture across Pennsylvania, the United States and the World. In Monday’s Daily Herald, Secretary
Hayes talks about the many construction projects undertaken by the Department of Agriculture, his future and the support of his wife Betty.