Harrisburg, PA – The commonsense, bipartisan budget Governor Josh Shapiro signed earlier this month invests in the future of Pennsylvania's agriculture sector, making critical investments in the industry that feeds the state's economy $132 billion annually, supports more than 580,000 jobs statewide, and puts food on tables around the world every day.
"Feeding a rapidly growing population in the face of increasingly complex climate, marketplace, and technological challenges requires feeding our agriculture businesses through commonsense investments aimed at solutions to those challenges," Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. "The Department is grateful that Governor Shapiro and the General Assembly have come together to help ensure that our industry is positioned to grow, and all Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to share the benefits of our growth."
The budget increases funding for the Department by nearly 6.4%, feeding agricultural emergency preparedness and response to help cushion businesses against the blows of animal disease and invasive species outbreaks; feeding agriculture business profits while increasing consumer confidence in products labelled as organic; and feeding opportunities for healthy, locally grown foods in rural and underserved communities where availability is scarce.
"Pennsylvania has such a rich diversity in our agricultural landscape, including urban and rural producers, diversified vegetable farms, and pastured livestock operations," Executive Director of Pasa Sustainable Agriculture and Juniata County farmer Hannah Smith-Brubaker said. "While many federal agricultural policies prioritize commodity crops produced at a large scale, with 80% of Pennsylvania farms categorized as small-scale producers, our state understands that, like agriculture itself, farm policy cannot be one size fits all."
Critical agriculture investments in the 2023-24 budget include:
- $31 million to help poultry farmers impacted by the hi-path avian influenza crisis pay for testing and get reimbursed for losses to their flocks. The $34 million Agricultural Preparedness and Response line item includes $3 million to help control invasive spotted lanternflies and leverages $3 million in matching funds from the USDA.
- $2 million to fund the Fresh Food Financing Initiative that will contribute to better health outcomes by improving access to PA-grown, processed, and produced foods.
- $2 million increase to the State Food Purchase Program to provide state funds for emergency food assistance for low-income Pennsylvanians. The increase to the $26.28 million line item will connect surplus food donated by farmers through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System to food banks and food pantries statewide, and will connect low-income seniors to Senior Food Boxes filled with nutritious dietary staples.
- $1 million to create a new Organic Center of Excellence, one of the first-of-its kind, to empower and support organic farmers and businesses.
The budget invests $13.8 million in a fifth year of the PA Farm Bill, making critical investments in building the workforce, processing infrastructure, and marketing opportunities the industry needs, and in removing barriers standing between the industry and those who want to be part of its future.
"We want to applaud Governor Josh Shapiro for his unwavering support of Pennsylvania's number one industry, which is agriculture," said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Chris Hoffman, who also farms in Juniata County. "The 2023 budget showcases that he is engaged and focused on agriculture having the resources it needs to keep moving forward. Investing in the PA Farm Bill and the agricultural work force, along with food processing and marketing are critical for Pennsylvania farmers. We are also pleased to see the Governor allocating funds for poultry farmers impacted by highly pathogenic avian influenza and funding programs designed to combat the spread of the spotted lanternfly. The budget aligns with a lot of Farm Bureau's policy asks."
For more information on the investments made in Pennsylvania's commonsense, bi-partisan budget visit shapriobudget.pa.gov.
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