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Pennsylvania's Center for Poultry and Livestock Excellence was launched November 18, 2019, as a part of the historic Pennsylvania Farm Bill. Administered by PennAg Industries Association, Harrisburg, the focus of the Center is to assist poultry, swine, lamb, sheep and goat producers with priorities ranging from expanding processing capacity to biosecurity planning.

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"In this ever-changing industry, we're working to prepare today's producers for tomorrow's challenges with a unique variety of essential resources available through this Center. This partnership opens the door to a stronger animal ag sector in Pennsylvania and a future of opportunity."

- Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding

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In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed the first-ever Pennsylvania Farm Bill and, thanks to support from the Pennsylvania General Assembly, funded the Center for Poultry and Livestock Excellence with an investment of $1 million. A board of directors, representing the species served by the Center, as well as a diverse group of agriculture, animal health and academic stakeholders, was created to guide the Center to fulfillment of the mission set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

The center will provide the following resources and investments to the industry:

  • Biosecurity education and planning assistance

  • Biosecurity implementation grants

  • Regional workshops for strategic and emergency communications planning

  • Build out of statewide animal agriculture infrastructure

  • Research to approve hemp for animal feed

  • Investments in improved food safety infrastructure​

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"PennAg is pleased the Pennsylvania Farm Bill's Center for Poultry and Livestock Excellence calls attention to the continued growth, challenges and importance of the livestock industry in the Commonwealth. We're eager to assist in driving the growing poultry and swine industries forward through this new center, as both play a vital role to Pennsylvania agriculture."

- PennAg Executive Vice President Chris Herr

The Center for Poultry and Livestock Excellence has a dedicated team of individuals overseeing the day to day administration of the Center's projects as directed by the board of directors and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

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Meet the

Board of Directors
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Jim Shirk
Ceva US

Jim Shirk, Lancaster County, manages poultry vaccine sales across the Eastern United States for Ceva US. A ’93 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Environment Resource Management, Shirk has a long history of serving agriculture in various professional and volunteer roles, providing leadership to positively impact poultry, swine, conservation, academia and other initiatives.

Dr. Broc Sandelin
Vice Chairman
Delaware Valley University

Dr. Broc Sandelin currently serves as Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Delaware Valley University, where he's responsible for program development, evaluation, faculty development, strategic planning and budgeting. Raised on a beef and row crop operation in Southwest Kansas, his PhD from the University of Arkansas included research into developing biological markers for feed efficiency in cattle.

Chris Pierce
Heritage Poultry Management Services

As President of Heritage Poultry Management Services, Inc., Lebanon County, Chris Pierce ensures that both the traditional and cage-free egg laying industries provide for the care and well-being of hens, with a full understanding of the benefits and challenges to approaches. He's served on various state and national organizations dedicated to helping producers and the egg industry meet consumer expectations for responsible care. 

Dr. Gary Althouse
University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine

Gary Althouse, PhD, DVM, serves as Associate Dean of

Sustainable Agricultural and Veterinary Practices at PennVet. A professor of Reproduction and Swine Herd Health, his primary areas of research include comparative theriogenology, swine production medicine, andrology and spermatology. He founded

and directs the Reference Andrology Laboratory, providing 

quality control semen analysis for swine, cattle and equine.

Dr. Alex Hamberg
Pennsylvania Department
of Agriculture

As State Veterinarian, Director of the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services and Executive Director of the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, Dr. Alex Hamberg is responsible for the safety and quality of the food supply by safeguarding livestock and public health, and the economic well-being of the domestic animal industry. 

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Lucas Waybright
PASA Sustainable Agriculture

Lucas is the Dairy Grazing Project Manager for Pasa Sustainable Agriculture. He is working on a multi-year, multi-partner project focused on supporting and increasing pasture based dairy systems in the Mid Atlantic region. He will also help assist the nationally recognized Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program which Pasa administers. Lucas has a B.S. in Agri-Business from Delaware Valley College and 10 years experience on a dairy farm in many different capacities.

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Mel Gehman
Heritage Poultry Management Services

Mel Gehman, founder and former President of Heritage Poultry Management Services, Inc., has been involved in the egg industry for more than 50 years and continues to use his expertise to provide services to benefit the customers Heritage serves. Mel

also served as president of Pennsylvania Certified Organic. He is presently serving his third term as Poultry Health Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission.

Deputy Greg Hostetter
Pennsylvania Department
of Agriculture

Deputy Secretary for Animal Health and Food Safety Gregory Hostetter is responsible for the bureaus of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services, Food Safety and Laboratory Services and Dog Law Enforcement. He has served on the USDA’s Farm Service Agency Pennsylvania state committee, USDA’s NRCS State Technical Committee, DEP's Agriculture Advisory Board and has been active in the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

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Ben Junkin
Junk-Inn Farms

Ben Junkin operates Junk-Inn Farms, Franklin County, along with his father, where they raise sheep, hogs and turkeys in addition to growing hay, corn and soybeans. Prior to returning to the farm, Ben worked as a staff member at the PA Department of Agriculture and the PA State Senate. Junkin is a graduate of Lock Haven University and now resides in Blairs Mills with his wife, Holly, and their children.

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Mark Martin
Longenecker's Hatchery

Mark Martin, a partner at Longenecker's Hatchery and longtime poultry industry professional, is Vice President of their Broiler Breeders and Technical Services division, serving farmers and poultry companies in the Mid-Atlantic region. Mark's previous experience includes Influenza vaccine production, development and technical service with Wyeth, after obtaining a Master's in Avian Immunology/Virology from the University of Delaware.

J Mac Magee
Commercial Concepts AI, Inc.

Mac Magee has served as General Manager for Commercial Concepts AI, Inc. since 1997, offering industry-leading improvements for maternal and terminal swine genetics. Prior to joining Commercial Concepts, Mac was a Sow Barn Technician for White Oak Mills. He also owns a flock of commercial hair sheep and operates JM Club Lambs, raising quality club lambs that are competitive at local, state and national levels.

Tom Pastor
Central Life Sciences

Tom Pastor has worked in the swine industry for more than 35 years and also serves as a longtime director with the Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council. He has spent over two decades raising meat goats as well. Tom holds a degree in Animal Production from Penn State and currently is a Regional Sales Manager for Central Life Sciences, offering innovated insect pest management solutions for livestock and livestock production.

Adele M. Turzillo, Ph.D.
Penn State University

Adele M. Turzillo, Ph.D., is Professor and Department Head of Animal Science at Penn State University. In this role she provides leadership for a broad range of programs in basic and applied research, undergraduate and graduate education, and youth and adult extension. Prior to joining Penn State in 2020, Dr. Turzillo spent 16 years in Washington, DC where she held positions at the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Turzillo earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences and Ph.D. in Physiology from Cornell University.

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Phil Wise
Murray's Chicken

Phil Wise grew up on a sheep farm in Central PA and, after graduating from Penn State with a degree in Poultry Science, he worked in both the South and Midwest for Butterball and Tyson Foods. Wise returned to Pennsylvania to help run his family’s farm, helping to maintain a flock of 280 brood ewes, while also working for Murray’s Chicken as Plant Director. Phil is active in the Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Growers Association.

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