Congratulations to Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff for being honored as the 2009 recipient of Holstein Association USA’s Distinguished Leadership Award. This award recognizes an individual who has made a career of providing outstanding and unselfish leadership for the betterment of the dairy industry.
Wolff spent many years as a dairyman in Pennsylvania, developing his operation, Pen-Col Farms, into a globally recognized prefix by pioneering embryo exports, marketing genetics to over 30 countries around the world.
In 2003, Wolff was confirmed as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture. Since then, he has put in place many state initiatives to help safeguard and grow the dairy industry. During his tenure, he created the Pennsylvania Dairy Task Force and developed a strategic plan to ensure a stable future for their state dairy industry. As part of the Task Force, several programs have been enacted, including the Center for Dairy Excellence, which helps farmers develop steps to improve the profitability and milk yields of their business.
In 2006, Wolff called for the creation of the Northeast Dairy Leadership Team, which leverages agricultural leadership in Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont to help influence federal dairy policy. This team worked on several key issues in the 2008 Farm Bill for the benefit of dairy farmers across the country. Other initiatives that he has led include the Center for Farm Transitions, Pennsylvania Grows, and Act 38, a law which gives farmers the right to challenge unfair local ordinances that infringe on their ability to farm.
Aside from his duties as the Secretary of Agriculture, Wolff also lends his time and expertise to other organizations. Since 2000, he has served on the World Trade Organization’s Agriculture Technical Committee. His successful work as a member of this committee has enhanced the ability for other dairymen to export embryos of all dairy breeds. He has been a member of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees since 2001, and served on the University of Pennsylvania Board of Overseers since 2004.
This is not the first time Wolff has been honored for his service to the industry. He was recently awarded the “Best Available Technology Award” by the National Agribusiness Technology Center for his leadership in developing a software system, improving animal health issue management in Pennsylvania. He received an Honorary FFA American Farmer Degree in 2005, and was recognized as a Master Farmer in 1994.
Wolff is also the President and Founder of the Nicholas Wolff Foundation and Camp Victory, which was established in 1987 on 35 acres of the Wolff’s home farm. Camp Victory is designed for handicapped and chronically ill children, to provide them a camp they can attend to meet other youth facing the same issues they are, make friends, and have fun. Today, the camp covers 120 acres of land and serves over 1200 special needs children each summer.