Yaw Urges Governor to Restore Funding Cuts for Agriculture

Agriculture is Pennsylvania’s number one industry, and a huge job creator, but the current budget shortfall and the governor’s proposed budget cuts could have a serious impact on farmers, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).  Yaw, who serves on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, heard testimony on the governor’s proposed agriculture budget during a hearing today at the state capitol.

Yaw, who has been a strong advocate for the agricultural industry, said the Governor’s proposed agriculture budget calls for an overall 17 percent cut, while all other areas are reduced by only 8.8 percent.

“The governor is proposing increases in Education, Public Welfare and Corrections, and yet he is investing significantly less in an industry that produces important products, creates jobs, and is vital to our economy,” Yaw said.  “We need to fund research and development, particularly with regard to the exploration of Marcellus Shale, which could be a huge asset to this state.”

Despite that fact, for the seventh year in a row the governor has proposed either a decrease or a zero percent increase for the Penn State Research and Agricultural Extension Service – which many farmers rely on.

The Future Farmers of America Program (FFA) would be cut by 60 percent under the governor’s budget plan – a serious blow to the farming industry.  “By cutting this program by more than half, we are essentially pushing our next generation of farmers to the side,” Yaw said.  “Our state has a huge farming tradition, and one that we are very proud of.  It’s one of the reasons that this industry is so strong.”

Yaw also voiced concerns about other cuts proposed by the governor, including:

  • Animal Health Diagnostic Commission-  19% cut from last year
  • Crop Insurance –  60% cut from last year
  • Ag Research –  73% cut from last year
  • County Fairs-  cut nearly 50%
  • Hardwoods and Research Promotion  — funding zeroed out

Yaw said he is committed to working with other legislators to restoring funding in the upcoming budget for key programs and ensuring that the agriculture industry does not take the brunt of the state’s fiscal crisis.

“Farmers are being very realistic and responsible in their requests.  Our goal is to restore $7.7 million dollars to agricultural programs – that is not too much to ask for out of a $29 billion dollar budget,” Yaw said.  “I understand we face tough economic times in this state and a huge shortfall, but investing in all areas of farming is an investment in our future and will only create more jobs and opportunities for state resident in the years ahead.”

Contact: Adam Pankake
(717) 787-3280