Yaw, Senate Colleagues Back Supplemental Agriculture Appropriation Bill

HARRISBURG – State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), along with his colleagues Senator Elder Vogel (R-47), Senator Dave Argall (R-29), Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) and Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-13) today sponsored legislation that will provide a supplemental appropriation for agriculture-related line items previously eliminated by Governor Tom Wolf.

The senator’s proposal includes more than $62 million in supplemental funding earmarked for the state’s Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, Pennsylvania Veterinary Lab, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences and Agriculture Research.

Last month, Governor Wolf partially vetoed House Bill 1460, legislation that would have fully-funded state government operations for the 2015-16 fiscal year.  While exercising his line-item veto authority, Governor Wolf eliminated nearly $100 million from the Department of Agriculture’s (PDA) budget.

“I still cannot believe the governor zeroed out these and other important agriculture programs in their entirety,” Senator Yaw said.  “As Pennsylvanians, we take great pride in our agriculture heritage.  The exciting growth and development of this industry is a true testament to our history, which supports thousands of jobs, small businesses, and families across our state.  It’s important that we all play a role in promoting and enhancing this industry, and that most definitely should include our Governor, as well.”

The proposal would fund:

  • Animal Health & Diagnostic Commission ($5,350,000): The Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, in conjunction with the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services (BAHDS) and the Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS) is responsible for the detection, identification, containment and eradication of livestock and poultry diseases. Disease control programs for diseases such as brucellosis, avian influenza, rabies and chronic wasting disease seek to reduce significant economic loss to producers and prevent transmission of zoonotic organisms from animals to humans.
  • Pennsylvania Veterinary Lab ($5,309,000): The Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory (PVL) is one of three Pennsylvania laboratories that make up the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS).  PVL is also part of a nationwide network of state and federal laboratories dedicated to identifying and combating animal diseases. The laboratory provides animal health services for producers’ domestic animals with emphasis on infectious, nutritional and toxic diseases. State-of-the-art testing methods help diagnose common diseases and provide surveillance to detect emerging diseases.
  • Transfer to Agricultural College Land Scrip Fund Restricted Account ($50,549,000): Monies in this fund can be disbursed only for use by the officially designated land grant college (Pennsylvania State University) for the benefit of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts.  The fund also supports the Cooperative Extension network of 123 educator agents who work in county offices across the state.
  • Agriculture Research ($1,587,000):  Vital to producers, processors and consumers.  As a result of this funding, PDA and Penn State University have also created three Pennsylvania Agriculture Resource Centers- the Food Safety Center, the Animal Care Center, and the Plant Health Center to integrate the regulatory and compliance initiatives of the Department with the research and educational capabilities of the University.  Monies will also be directed to the University of Pennsylvania for avian influenza research.

“I applaud the people who work on our farms every day, and in our state labs, county extension offices and research facilities for their commitment. I want them to know that I will continue to fight to support their important work.”

To preview the Senate co-sponsor memo, click here.

Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff

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