Farmer to continue in leadership role
Growing up on a 220-acre farm, Rick Ebert can remember showing his first calf at the county fair and working in the garden with his mother.
“I always enjoyed working with the cows and doing the fieldwork,” said Ebert, 53, who took over his family's dairy farm that straddles Derry Township and Blairsville with his brother Bill and added 180 acres nearby.
“It's just the sense of self-satisfaction in the work that you do,” such as watching the crops grow, improving the herd over time and producing milk for Turner Dairy in Penn Hills, Ebert said.
That lifelong experience has helped Ebert relate to the concerns of farmers across Pennsylvania, as he has served as vice president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau since 2004. He was re-elected for a fifth two-year term in November.
“I'm really honored to serve in this capacity for the organization,” Ebert said. “My goal is to make agriculture better in the state for our farmers, so that's what I take pride in ... hopefully, we can accomplish what we set out to do.”
The state farm bureau is broken into county districts, with Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette and Greene under the same leadership, when Ebert started out in 1982 as district president, then state board member and county director from 1996 to 2004.
The organization works to involve its members in the legislative process, providing information and lobbying for policy development from its farmer-members.
Any member can offer a resolution that is discussed by the membership before it is sent to the state level for the 175 delegates to address. Issues such as wildlife crop damage, the Clean Water Act and road infrastructure are under consideration, Ebert said.
He spends time in Harrisburg speaking before legislative committees.
“It's just part of what I wanted to give back to the community and people across the state in agriculture,” Ebert said.
His wife, Diane, is involved with the farm and the organization, winning the farm bureau's Young Farmer and Rancher Award in the late 1980s.
Rick Ebert was also awarded the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer Award and the 2007 Keystone Farmer of the Year Award.
“He believes in what he's doing,” Diane Ebert said, adding that her husband's passionate, yet level-headed demeanor have helped him to work with legislators and farmers.
Carl T. Shaffer, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, said that Rick has spent his career as a strong leader.
“Pennsylvania farmers are lucky to have someone as committed to agriculture as Rick,” Shaffer said.
Bill Ebert said his brother represents farmers, such as ones like the Eberts, who have spent their lives working the Pennsylvania land, well.
“The farm bureau's a good organization; they help the farmer out a lot,” he said. “(Rick) can bring his perspective to the organization.”
The Eberts' farm, Will-Mar-Re, has about 90 milking cows and 65 young stock as well as fields for corn and hay for their livestock, and soybeans as a cash crop.
Bill Ebert generally handles the crops and the machinery, while Rick manages the cows. They attended Penn State, where Bill earned an associate degree in agribusiness and Rick earned a bachelor's degree in dairy science.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.