The state of agriculture in Pennsylvania

Agriculture is touted as Pennsylvania’s number one industry. It has a wide-ranging impact from the food we eat to the businesses that sell or serve that food.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, that is going on now, is the world’s largest indoor agricultural exhibition, that highlights and celebrates the state’s products and farmers every January. It also is a good time to get a “State of Agriculture in Pennsylvania.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected farming over the past two years. Like many other industries there aren’t enough workers and price inflation has hit farmers hard. But Pennsylvania has generally had weather that was conducive to a longer growing season over the past year and farmers got good prices for their products.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding appears on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss what he calls an “extraordinary” year for farmers.

Fire safety in spotlight after tragic fatal fires

Sunday morning, 17 people, including eight children, died in an apartment fire in the Bronx, New York. Twelve people, including eight children, were killed in a Philadelphia row home fire last Wednesday. A 69-year-old man died a house fire in Dauphin County last weekend.

The Philadelphia and New York fires were unusual because of the large number of people who tragically lost their lives. However, fatal fires unfortunately are still common, although there aren’t as many as years ago before smoke detectors were in most homes.

But keeping our homes safe from fire and being prepared should be a priority all the time and perhaps we need to be reminded.

Pennsylvania’s Acting Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook is on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to discuss fire safety.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2022 priorities on Smart Talk

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has just begun his final year in office.

The governor appears on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to discuss a wide range of issues.

We’ll talk with Wolf about his legislative priorities in 2022.

Topics may include what Wolf’s last state budget blueprint will look like, continuing efforts to fight COVID-19, climate change, voting and elections.

Support for men and women addicted to pornography

It’s estimated that 200,000 American adults are addicted to pornography — defined as “a person becoming emotionally dependent on pornography to the point that it interferes with their daily life, relationships, and ability to function.”

Some 40 million people visit porn sites on line on a regular basis and that includes both women and men. Thirty-five percent of all internet downloads are related to porn.

However, there is support for those recovering from a porn addiction, including an online website called “Porn to Purpose.”

Joining us on Tuesday’s Smart Talk is Matthew Sinkovitz, a Porn Abstinence Accountability Coach and leads an online porn addiction support website called “Porn to Purpose.”

New law restricts surprise medical bills

Surprise medical bills or surprise balance billing could be a thing of the past under a new law that became effective the first of the year.

Patients, covered by health insurance, that were treated with a surgery or procedure would sometimes get a bill later, charging them for services performed by an out-of-network provider.often those bills were expensive.

There are some loopholes to the law and it requires compliance by providers.

In Pennsylvania, the state insurance department has implemented the law.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman is on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to explain the new law and patients’ options.

When to get tested and is it a cold, the flu or COVID?

After almost two years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., the omicron variant is driving the biggest surge of cases yet.

There are some differences from early 2020 though. Most adults are vaccinated and omicron doesn’t appear to cause as serious of an illness and as many hospitalizations as the delta variant for example.

But almost two years in with ever-changing rules and guidance, testing is once again an issue – especially since even the vaccinated can become infected. When should you get tested? How often should you get tested? What’s the best test to get? How accurate are the antigen tests that can be purchased at a store or online? What should you do if none of the antigen tests are available or can be found on sale?

Also, the symptoms for a cold, the flu and COVID-19 are similar. How can we tell the difference?

To answer those questions and more on Tuesday’s Smart Talk is Dr. Eugene Curley, Infectious Disease Physician at Wellspan Health.

Travels With George — In Search of Washington and His Legacy

The nation’s first president George Washington was certainly the most revered person in young America and maybe the most beloved chief executive the country has ever had.

When Washington was president, most people only knew him by reputation or that he was the commander of the army that won independence from Great Britain. As president, Washington traveled — making three long trips to New England, Long Island and Rhode Island and the South to talk with the people about the new government and get a feel for what Americans were thinking.

Almost 230 years later, renowned history author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Nathaniel Philbrick, along with his wife and dog, followed Washington’s path. His new book is Travels with George – In Search of Washington and His Legacy.

Pa. lags in meeting Chesapeake Bay restoration goals

Pennsylvania continues to trail other states in meeting its goals for the Chesapeake Bay restoration.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is a federal/state plan established in 2010 to restore water quality in the region’s rivers, streams, and Chesapeake Bay. It includes pollution limits allocated to each jurisdiction, specific plans to meet those limits with reasonable assurance of success, two-year milestones for accountability, and a commitment from EPA that there would be consequences for failure. The goal is to have programs and practices in place by 2025 that will result in a restored Bay.

Pennsylvania recently submitted a revised plan to meet it’s goals by 2025 but at last check the state would only get to 75 percent of its targets and is underfunded by 300 million dollars.

Monday’s Smart Talk gets an assessment of where Pennsylvania stands on bay restoration from Harry Campbell, Science Policy and Advocacy Director in Pennsylvania for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Pa. State Parks offering hikes for new year

What do you think about starting 2022 with a hike through nature at a Pennsylvania State Park? The State Department of Conservation and Natural resources is hosting more than 50, free guided hikes at 37 state parks on New Year’s Day.

The hikes usually are about one or two miles, but can be longer depending on the park and its terrain, according to DCNR.

We’ll learn more about First Day Hikes on Thursday’s Smart Talk with Christine Ticehurst, our Recreation and Interpretation Program Coordinator who oversees the First Day Hikes program, Kimberly Peck and Renae Weidner, environmental education specialists at Laurel Hill and Codorus state parks.

New book details NRA’s missteps

The National Rifle Association is one of the nation’s most powerful lobbying organizations and probably most responsible for stopping any new significant gun laws.

However, the NRA has gone through a series of major financial and legal setbacks in recent years. They include filing for bankruptsy, accusations of financial mismanagement by high-ranking NRA officials, which led to defending itself in an investigation by the New York State Attorney General and dozens of resignations.

NPR’s Washington Investigative Correspondent Tim Mak is on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss his new book Misfire Inside the Downfall of the NRA.