Candidate visits county

By JOE THOMPSON Staff Writer
Huntingdon Daily News
April 6, 2024

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick made a campaign stop in Huntingdon County Friday morning. It was part of a tour he is making of about 12 farms across the commonwealth this spring to better understand agricultural issues.

McCormick, who grew up on a small farm near Bloomsburg, visited Wingert Farms in Porter Township, just outside of Alexandria.

McCormick is a combat veteran and business leader who seeks to bring new leadership to the Senate, and he recognizes the importance of the agricultural industry in the state’s economy and his campaign efforts.

“Agriculture is the most important industry in Pennsylvania,” McCormick said as he met a small group of those from across Huntingdon County with ag interests. “I know farms are under a lot of pressure, and if I’m elected, I need to be a strong advocate and strong leader on those issues.”

“We have a production dairy herd,” co-owner Ben Wingert said as he explained the family-owned and operated farm. Wingert herd of about 1,250 registered Holsteins and Jerseys produce 90,000 pounds of milk a day.

Wingerts sell their milk primarily to Land-O-Lakes in Carlisle for butter and the Hershey Chocolate Co. for — you guessed it, making chocolate.

“Where do I start talking about the issues facing farmers today?” Wingert said, explaining to McCormick that inflation and interest rates are two of his biggest concerns.

“The three things I’m hearing the most about from others are inflation, including the increasing costs of fuel, federal regulations making it harder to be a small business like a farm, and the lack of labor,” McCormick said.

McCormick said he knows very well how those “bread and butter” kitchen table discussion topics affect so many hard-working Pennsylvanians.

This is his second bid for U.S. Senate.

“The last time I ran, in 2022, I lost by 900 votes out of 1.5 million votes cast,” McCormick said. “And that was hard, losing by that few votes. I’m running again because I feel like the country is in deep trouble economically, along with the war on energy and the southern border is completely out of control.”

He said he believes he can make a difference in the U.S. Senate and knows Pennsylvania is a swing state in this year’s election.

“If I win, that means Republicans will also win the Senate back,” he said.

The whole milk bill was also on farmers’ minds Friday morning.

Back in 2010, Congress passed a law effectively banning whole milk from the National School Lunch Program. In December 2023, Pennsylvania Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, who chairs the agriculture committee, led the charge to pass the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act in the House of Representatives. The bill would put whole milk back in the National School Lunch Program as an option for students.

McCormick reassured the farmers he supports the measure and emphasized current Sen. Bob Casey opposes it.

“That’s right, Casey is against it,” he said. “And it’s because of issues like this that, if I were in the Senate, I could be a strong advocate and a strong leader for agriculture.”

McCormick also spoke about energy, saying Pennsylvania has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world.

“But producers can’t get the gas out of the ground because of the regulations preventing drilling, the red tape, hindering new pipelines, all of which affects our energy independence,” he said.

He also addressed the national debt and the economy.

“President Biden says the economy is going great, but the fact is, for most Pennsylvanians, it’s not doing great,” McCormick said. “More people in Pennsylvania are now living paycheck to paycheck because prices are up 18% over the past three years and wages are up 14%.”

McCormick explained that means many people are getting squeezed on items such as food, fuel, rent and mortgage payments. He blames the upward inflationary spiral on excessive federal spending, and, he said, the policies he spoke about restricting fossil fuels play a part as well.

“The $34 trillion federal debt, that figure is mind-boggling,” he stressed. “It’s a trillion dollars in interest alone, and that’s more than the annual U.S Defense budget. Washington is out of control with spending, and that isn’t sustainable.”

McCormick said he’s in favor of a balanced budget amendment, so that if there’s no balanced budget, Congress doesn’t get paid.

“I have experience preparing budgets and making the sometimes-difficult decisions that come with that, so I’d be a good voice for getting our debt under control,” he said.

Another question from the group was about foreign country ownership of farmland in the United States.

“I’m opposed to it, particularly as it relates to China,” said McCormick. “China has bought about 400,000 acres of American farmland over the past four years or so, along with trying to buy land next to United States military bases.”

He said he would lead efforts to stop China from buying farmland in the U.S.

“That issue also relates to food security and who has control of our food supply, which is another agricultural concern,” McCormick said.

The November U.S Senate contest between incumbent Democrat Casey and Republican challenger McCormick is expected to be one of the nation’s most expensive and closely watched races.

The presidential battleground state of Pennsylvania will be critical to whether Democrats can maintain control of the White House and the Senate, and a Casey loss would likely guarantee Republican control of a Senate currently divided by the narrowest of margins.