Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release: June 25, 2018
(Camp Hill) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) applauded members of the state General Assembly and Governor Wolf for supporting a state budget that recognizes the importance of vital agriculture programs. The spending plan includes increased funding for agriculture research and Cooperative Extension programs administered by Penn State University ($1.5 million), the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine ($900,000) and the General Government Operations for the Department of Agriculture ($1 million).
“We are pleased that adequate funding to support programs and people, who work on behalf of Pennsylvania farmers and the state’s agriculture industry, is in place for the new fiscal year,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “Research and technical assistance provided by Penn State and Penn VET help farmers work more efficiently, identify issues such as pest and plant disease and take action to further improve the environment, while Pennsylvania consumers benefit with advances and monitoring of food safety protocols.”
The budget includes a new $3 million appropriation to help control the spread of the spotted lanternfly, which is an invasive insect that threatens crops, fruits and trees. This will be used in conjunction with $17 million from the federal government to help identify and eradicate the spotted lanternfly.
The new budget provides a $500,000 increase in funding for agriculture research conducted by the Department of Agriculture and restores funding for Agricultural Excellence programs, Food Marketing and Research, and Agricultural Promotion, Education and Exports.
The budget also increases the Commonwealth’s commitment to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) by $500,000 to $1.5 million. PASS helps cover costs associated with harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting surplus food from Pennsylvania farms to charitable food systems.
“The additional funding will provide even more food to the needy, including products on food bank wish lists, such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, poultry, milk and other dairy products,” added Ebert.
In addition, $5 million in funding is being made available through the First Industries Fund (administered by the Department of Community & Economic Development) for dairy farmers to create value-added products or for farmers and dairy processors to use for market analysis.
“This funding could provide other options for dairy farmers to utilize the milk they produce and enhance efforts for farmers and processors to more effectively market their products to consumers,” concluded Ebert.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with more than 62,000 member families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.