Pa. farming advocates hope to restore line items cut from agriculture in Wolf’s budget proposal

A farm Lancaster County is seen in this photo taken Oct. 19, 2019. (Ian Sterling for WITF)

A farm Lancaster County is seen in this photo taken Oct. 19, 2019. (Ian Sterling for WITF)

Some Republican state lawmakers are disappointed with Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal to cut funding for the Agriculture Department.

But farming advocates say the budget plan is a good starting point for discussion.

The proposal zeros out money for a handful of programs, including more than $2 million for agricultural research.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Spokesman Mark O’Neill says he’s seen these same cuts suggested in the past.

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“But throughout the process, typically, we have gotten those programs restored,” he said.

O’Neill said they plan to work with the legislature to reinstate the line items.

The bureau is also seeking increases for Penn State agriculture programs and a state commission that provides veterinary support.

The Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission got an extra $2 million in a separate line item this year.

O’Neill said they would like to see that included again in next year’s budget.

“We want to make sure that the people here in Pennsylvania are prepared to act, react, and be proactive when you hear about these threats to agriculture” such as avian flu, he said.

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