Lawmaker cries foul on cuts to fairs

    Governor Rendell’s proposed Pennsylvania budget for agriculture would whack all state support of county fairs.

    Governor Rendell’s proposed Pennsylvania budget for agriculture would whack all state support of county fairs.

    Last year’s budget reduced grants to county fairs from 3.6 million to twomillion dollars. The proposed 2010-11 spending plan cuts that number to zero.

     Agriculture Secretary Russell Reading told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee his department will do everything it can to support the state’s 113 fairs.

    But during questioning, Senator Michael Waugh, a York County Republican,said the ongoing budget cuts have already left their mark.

    Waugh: “It wasn’t too many years ago – maybe one – that that number was 116. So that’s exactly what reductions in funding for these excellent programs do. We’ve lost three fairs in a year this year. That says it all.”

    Redding said his department would try to support county fairs in other ways.

    Redding: “We will continue to work with them this year, with or without the money, to promote the fairs as part of the agrotourism effort. We’ll try to linkthem in so folks who are out to the fairs can also take in a farm market, and do the winery and a bed and breakfast and try to link a few of these things together and help promote them.

    The proposed Agriculture Department budget is just under 101 million dollars.  Two years ago, the department had 114 million dollars to spend.

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