By Keith Gushard
WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP —
Uttering words of humble homage to those who’ve gone before them, George Greig, Jeffrey Raney and Dennis Archacki accepted their agriculture awards Sunday afternoon at the Crawford County Fair.
Greig of Linesville, who serves as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture, and Raney, a dairy farmer in the Adamsville area, were inducted into the Crawford County Agricultural Hall of Fame, while Dennis Archacki Excavating of Saegertown was honored with the Ag-Industry Award in ceremonies at the Youth Show Area. They also were presented with citations from the Pennsylvania House and Senate.
The Hall of Fame award honors those with exemplary records of service to the local agricultural community; the Ag-Industry Award honors longtime businesses that demonstrate both excellent customer service and that have given back to the agricultural community.
Winners are chosen from nominations submitted by those active in local agriculture.
Each was introduced and described as having both a true love of agriculture and respect for others.
Each man credited his family with being supportive in his activities both within and outside the world of agriculture.
Noting the list of past recipients of the Hall of Fame award (which dates back to 1981), Greig said, “To be a part of them is truly an honor.”
Raney told the crowd he’s always enjoyed working for and with farmers and learning from each of them. “Learning never stops,” he said.
Archacki said, “If it wasn’t for farmers, I wouldn’t be up here today.”
“I love taking a piece of land and making it look like something for somebody,” Archacki told the Tribune.
Archacki has been involved in the agricultural community his entire life.
“Agriculture has always been in my blood,” he said. “My grandfather always told me if you treat people with respect, give them a full day’s work and an honest price, you’ll not have what seems like work.”
He first began assisting his uncle, Mike Plementosh, with farm chores and crops when his grandfather, Matt Plementosh, suffered a severe heart attack in 1974.
After the death of his grandfather in 1977, Archacki began working with Craig and Carol Powell on their dairy farm until 1984. At that time he learned to operate heavy equipment with Joe Arendash Farm Power Contracting, which introduced him to conservation work — tilling fields, building ponds and waterways, land clearing and more. Following his employment with Arendash he began working with Reynolds Barn Equipment in Edinboro.
After the death of his grandmother in 1988, Archacki returned to assist his uncle on the farm. In May 1988, he purchased his first bulldozer and after working for several contractors, started his own business with his wife, April, in the fall of 1992. In 1998, he began working side-by-side with many farmers and their families after being contacted by Carl Pelino of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“It does take time, but I enjoy doing it,” Raney told the Tribune of all his activities, especially those in agriculture. “It keeps me alert. It keeps thinking fresh and you see trends in agriculture.”
Raney, a native of Lawrence County, always has been interested in farming, helping his grandfather on his farm. In high school he became active in FFA and served as the state FFA vice president. He moved to Crawford County in 1980 and began working as a herdsman for Black-Pond Farm with Chuck and Bill Black. He became active on many Crawford County boards, including Crawford County Holstein Club, Junior Holstein Club and Dairy Herd Improvement Association Board.
In 1984, he purchased the former John Vanderstappen Dairy Farm near Jamestown and J-RA Holsteins got its start.
Raney and his wife, Brenda, also served as 4-H leaders for the Pymatuning 4-H Club and organized Countyline Farmers 4-H Club in 1994. They served on the Crawford County Cooperative Extension Board and were general chairpersons of the state Holstein Convention. He served as chairman of the Crawford County Fair Dairy Committee for 10 years, and served for 18 years as a board member for AgChoice Farm Credit, working on various committees and holding the duties of chairman of the board from 2006 to 2008.
Currently he is a delegate to COBA/Select Sires, serves the Mideast Area Council for Dairy Farmers of America and was elected chairman in 2012, serves on the Corporate Board of Dairy Farmers of America and the state Dairy Promotion Board and Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association.
He was an elder in Jamestown Presbyterian Church and served on various committees. He was awarded the Crawford County Young Farmer and Crawford County Conservation District Farmer of the Year honors.
His registered Holstein herd consists of 11 excellent cows and 30 very good cows. His DHIA record stands at more than 24,000 pounds of milk, 921 of fat and 754 of protein. The farm yields 100 acres of corn and 100 acres of soybeans as well as alfalfa.
“It’s all about service,” Greig told the Tribune of why he’s been involved in so many agriculture organizations over the years.
Currently serving as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, Greig has served on numerous agriculture-related boards and committees for many years. His positions have included the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency State Committee, Lake Erie and Genessee Basin Regional Water Resources Committee, Crawford County Farm Service Agency County Committee and chairman, Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Services Community Committee and farm reporter, Conneaut Township supervisor and owner of Greig’s Dairy Farm.
His community activities include the state Farm Bureau, Crawford County Farm Bureau, Northwest Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Ethanol Committee, Crawford County Conservation District, state Friends of Ag Foundation, spokesman for state Farm Bureau and Ronald McDonald House Charities for Food Check Out Day, Calvary Baptist Church in Linesville, district leader for Crawford County Republican Party Seventh District, Crawford County Republican Committeeman for Conneaut Township, Hayfield Grange, Crawford County Pomona Grange and state Grange, Conneaut Valley Lions Club and National Rifle Association.
He has been the recipient of the Honorary American FFA Degree, Terry K. Stover GOP Man of the Year Award, Crawford County Conservation Farmer of the Year Award and the Keystone Farmer Degree.
Crawford County ranks 14th out 67 counties in Pennsylvania in the total value of agricultural products sold, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Crawford County sold $101,036,000 worth of agricultural products, according to the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture, the latest year available. The USDA Census is taken every five years and the 2012 USDA Census is expected to be released this fall.
Crawford County also ranked within the top third out of all counties in the U.S. in the value of agricultural products 887th out of 3,076 counties nationwide.
Statewide, Crawford County ranks 12th in the value of milk and dairy products at $40,525,000; 12th in grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas at $14.06 million; sixth in other crops and hay at $4,622,000; 19th in nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod at $5,302,000; and 39th in vegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes at $785,000.