Pa. Agricultural funding plan a mixed bag

    Proposed increases to farming-related programs are prompting warm and fuzzy feelings at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

    At the same time, the agriculture lobby is also keeping an eye on proposals to zero out certain funds.

    Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a 3 percent increase for Penn State-administered programs supporting farmers, and a 9 percent hike in spending for general operations under the Department of Agriculture.

    Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, the group most closely watching farm-related programs.

    But bureau spokesman Mark O’Neill hedged his praise for the budget proposal.

    “Obviously, that’s kind of the starting point,” O’Neill said.

    The administration’s spending plan also calls for canceling the funds for several programs within the Department of Agriculture — including ones for agricultural research and centers supporting the beef and dairy industries.

    The beef and dairy programs also get nonstate funding, an agency spokeswoman said.

    Programs typically are slashed early on in the budgeting process, only to be restored eventually by lawmakers, O’Neill said.

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