Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release: February 5, 2020
(Camp Hill) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) described Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for agriculture as generally positive and a good starting point for discussions on funding priorities for the state’s number one industry over the next fiscal year.
Farm Bureau noted that the budget proposal maintains existing funding levels for several vital programs, including agriculture research and Cooperative Extension services administered by Penn State University and food safety and animal welfare programs managed by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet).
“Although we will be seeking an increase of 3% for programs administered by Penn State, we are pleased that the Governor’s plan acknowledges the important role Penn State and Penn VET play in advising farm families about positive changes they can make that benefit food production, animal health and the environment,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “Many of those recommendations are based on breakthroughs in research and technology.”
The budget proposal includes an additional $1 million for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS). “PASS is a win-win for the community and our farmers, because it puts quality food, which would have otherwise gone to waste, into the hands of food banks and needy people,” added Ebert. “The program benefits farmers by reimbursing them for costs associated with harvesting, processing and transporting the food.”
PFB recognizes that the budget plan includes a 5.25% increase for the Department of Agriculture’s General Government Operations, which provides funding for jobs and services that support the agriculture industry.
Meanwhile, the budget zeroed out a handful of program appropriations, including more than $2 million for agricultural research conducted by the Department of Agriculture and $1 million for Livestock and Consumer Health Protection. In addition, the budget would provide funding of $5.35 million to the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, but eliminate $2 million in additional funding for the commission that was included by the legislature as a separate line-item in last year’s budget.
“We plan to work with lawmakers from both parties throughout the budget process to restore funding for those programs that face elimination or funding cuts under the Governor’s proposal,” concluded Ebert.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization,
representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.