Capitol Roundup: 76 percent of parents concerned for child’s online safety

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]

WILKES-BARRE — With kids and young adults heading back to class, technology is more than ever at the forefront of back-to-school shopping lists.

PCMag and recently surveyed 1,000 consumers to dig in to back-to-school tech trends, as well as gauge parents’ concerns about their kids and technology. Some of the highlights:

• Desktops and laptops are the No. 1 item for back-to-school tech purchases (36 percent), followed by computer accessories (16 percent) or e-readers (14 percent.)

• Most consumers are shopping at Amazon (35 percent), Best Buy (26 percent) and Walmart (23 percent) to find the best deals on electronics.

• When asked what tech parents found most useful — E-readers were the top choice at 38 percent, followed by Bluetooth speakers (15 percent) or video streaming devices (15 percent.)

• PCMag also found that 76 percent of parents are concerned for their child’s online safety, with 51 percent harboring major concern.

• Conversely, over 1 in 3 respondents said they’ve never had proper education on cyber-security, with just 10 percent learning in high school and 12 percent in college.

More tech shopping, savings tips

“Amazon is ideal for comparison shopping, which is what you want when getting the best back-to-school deals,” said Chloe Albanesius, executive editor at PCMag. “But make sure to check out all the other retailers’ prices for the item you want, write them down and compare.”

For college students, PCMag’s Tom Brant suggests starting with the school’s recommendations. Many universities and specific programs post computer and software recommendations that meet the technical requirements of the program.

“See exactly what the school specs are for the laptop, and then comparison-shop those types of laptops,” Brant said. “College students have to make the most of the time they have available, and that’s where a laptop is critical.”

State releases recommendations

to strengthen, grow dairy industry

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding this week unveiled a plan designed to guide Pennsylvania’s dairy industry toward growth and development amid a challenging market. The secretary released the Pennsylvania Dairy Development Plan during a breakfast of dairy industry leaders at the annual Ag Progress Days exhibition.

“Pennsylvania’s dairy industry is a treasure to our commonwealth. It’s an industry that’s grappling with difficult global market conditions, but one that is also resilient and dominated by hardworking individuals who are entrepreneurial and eager to do what it takes for this industry to grow here,” Redding said. “Pennsylvania’s Dairy Development Plan is our attempt to lay out a plan for the future. It represents months of work gathering input from the public and industry, as well as extensive research and a hard look at Pennsylvania policy. It lays out both short-term and long-term goals, and recommendations that stakeholders can use as a starting place to strengthen and expand their operations.”

This year’s dairy industry breakfast meeting included a panel discussion, outlining recommendations from the study, findings from the dairy producer survey, and next steps identified in the Dairy Development Plan.

The plan includes a series of intermediate and longer-term strategies, including calls to better use existing funding to support research and development; an emphasis on identifying economic development projects; incentives for existing producers to upgrade their dairy equipment and facilities and invest in on-farm processing capacity; further streamlining and reform of Pennsylvania’s regulatory processes; and broader marketing efforts to promote the sale, consumption and health benefits of Pennsylvania milk.

These strategies are designed to complement and supplement other work of the Wolf Administration specific to dairy.

Additionally, the Wolf Administration has undertaken several initiatives to strengthen the industry, including actively working to attract new processors to Pennsylvania and surveying county economic development organizations to create an inventory of sites suitable for a dairy processing operation.

Wolf offers six-point plan on

next generation of Pa. farming

Gov. Tom Wolf this week outlined his six-point plan to strengthen Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry during remarks to more than 500 industry leaders at Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences’ annual Ag Progress Days.

Wolf cited the commonwealth’s competitive advantages and global reputation for quality and innovation as the foundation upon which to build the future of agriculture in Pennsylvania.

“My vision for the future of agriculture takes advantage of what’s special about Pennsylvania’s farms and food processors to set us apart on a global stage,” Wolf said. “We see tremendous opportunities for Pennsylvania, including the opportunity to diversify our business and capitalize on marketing opportunities. And even though there is no shortage of challenges, I believe we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on our many existing strengths and chart a path toward a dynamic and prosperous farming economy in Pennsylvania.”

The governor pointed to a report he unveiled at the 2018 Farm Show that showed Pennsylvania’s agriculture and food industries generate $135.7 billion in economic activity annually. The industries employ nearly 580,000 people and pay wages of nearly $27 billion.

The governor’s recommendations build off strategic recommendations contained in that report, which include:

• Rebuilding and expanding the state’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, ports and broadband.

• Strengthening Pennsylvania’s workforce to ensure the next generation is prepared to lead.

• Removing unnecessary regulatory burdens and strengthening the state’s business climate.

• Establishing business ownership succession plans on the farm and throughout the food system.

• Creating more processing capabilities to accommodate a growing animal agriculture and protein sector.

The sixth point in the governor’s plan reflects his vision to make Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state. In 2016, Pennsylvania overtook Washington as the second-leading state for organic sales in the U.S., producing and selling $660 million in certified organic commodities — more than double the amount sold in 2015. Additionally, the number of certified organic farms in the state increased 18 percent to 803 farms.

By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.