For Immediate Release: Feb. 3, 2021
(Camp Hill) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) called Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021-2022 budget proposal for agriculture a good starting point for delivering the tools Pennsylvania farmers need to continue to grow the state’s economy and produce food for their communities, state and beyond.
The plan would maintain existing funding levels for several key programs, including Penn State University’s agricultural research and Cooperative Extension services and University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet)’s food safety and animal welfare programs. The Department of Agriculture’s General Government Operations, which provides funding for jobs and services that support Pennsylvania agriculture, would receive a $1.3 million—or 4 percent—boost. Meanwhile, funding would be cut from some programs.
“We are pleased that the governor’s budget proposal recognizes the importance of supporting Pennsylvania’s number one industry by maintaining funding for several key agriculture programs,” PFB President Rick Ebert said. “We believe this plan will serve as a good starting point as we advocate for more investments to help farm families innovate to grow their businesses and rural Pennsylvania’s economy. The COVID-19 pandemic piqued the public’s interest in buying local food and underscored the critical role that farmers play in ensuring that our commonwealth has an abundant and accessible food supply. We will continue to highlight opportunities for Pennsylvania to benefit by restoring proposed funding cuts and moving beyond the status quo to invest more in farmers’ success.”
The plan also calls for increasing funding for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS), which assists with getting excess food from Pennsylvania farms and food processors into the charitable food system. The program was boosted last year by federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding and proved instrumental in helping both farmers and families in need during the pandemic.
“We have long supported increasing funding for the PASS program,” Ebert said. “The food supply chain disruptions that occurred early in the pandemic demonstrated how important it is to have a system in place to easily get food that would otherwise be wasted to the people who need it most.”
The governor’s plan would zero out funding for several agriculture line items, including programs related to agricultural research; agricultural promotion, education, and exports; hardwoods research and promotion; livestock and consumer health protection; animal health and diagnostics; and food marketing and research.
“We will work with legislators through the budget process to ensure that these programs facing elimination continue to be funded,” Ebert said.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.