Pa. invests in pollinator research | Five for the Weekend

The grants, the department said in a statement, are a way to support pollinator research and the state’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry

By: - April 2, 2022 6:30 am

A farmer plants corn into a cover crop of barley. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service/The Missouri Independent).

Happy weekend, all. 

In an effort to promote agricultural competition and boost pollinator health, the Wolf administration shared earlier this week that it had invested approximately $1 million in agricultural projects through a state grant program.

The State Specialty Crop Block Grants or Pennsylvania Specialty Crop Block Grants, a fund for specialty crops not eligible for the federal specialty crop program and high-priority crops in the commonwealth, including hemp, hops, hardwoods, honey, barley, rye, and wheat, is a part of the 2019 Farm Bill

The grants, the department said in a statement, are a way to support pollinator research and the state’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry.

“Pollinators are critical to the success of Pennsylvania agriculture; one out of every three bites we eat is thanks to pollinators,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “Honey bees are a critical part of that narrative, but they are also key to growing new markets for specialty crops. Supporting honey research and promotion through the Pennsylvania Specialty Crop Block Grant allows the commonwealth to grow its honey market while simultaneously supporting research that will benefit pollinator health, and in return, all of Pennsylvania agriculture.”

From 2019-2021, the Department of Agriculture reports that the State Specialty Crop Block Grant has awarded nearly $1 million to 23 projects across 11 counties. 

The department stipulates that projects eligible for the State Specialty Crop Block Grants “enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of specialty crops through research to increase conservation and environmental outcomes, enhance food safety, develop new and improved seed varieties, or improve pest and disease control.”

As always, the top five stories from this week are below.

Members of the Pennsylvania House applaud newly elected Speaker Bryan Cutler on June 22, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

1. Harrisburg is set for a makeover amid retirement wave and a busy primary season

Between new maps and an engaged, angry electorate, the 253-member Pennsylvania General Assembly could look dramatically different at this time next year.

A total of 37 lawmakers are calling it quits this year, leaving some hotly contested openings in races around the state. The Capital-Star also has identified at least 43 primary elections in which a sitting lawmaker is facing one or more contenders as they try to return to Harrisburg.

All 203 members of the Republican-controlled state House will face the voters this year, as will half of the 50-member state Senate, which also is in GOP hands.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

2. The Capital-Star’s 2022 Pa. incumbent retirement and primary tracker

With the 2022 elections on the horizon, tracking legislative turnover amid changing lines, double-bunked incumbents, and retirements is difficult. But the Capital-Star will attempt to track these potential changes over the coming months.

The House and Senate maps were approved in their final form Feb. 5, and the state Supreme Court said the maps are constitutional Mar. 16. These lines drew 26 lawmakers in with each other, however many of those matchups have been resolved by retirements.

Below are the 34 state legislators who have so far said they will not run for reelection, and the eight who still face a colleague to return to Harrisburg next year.

Lieutenant Governor candidates Chris Frye, left, and Jeff Coleman, right, speak in a video asking for civility in the 2022 GOP primary. (Screenshot)

3. Two GOP hopefuls ask for Mastriano; running mate Daniels to be civil in 2022 primary

Two Republican statewide hopefuls have asked for a controversial GOP gubernatorial candidate and, in particular, his brash running mate, to cut-out the name calling, and be civil in the ongoing GOP primary.

In a Thursday video, lieutenant governor contenders Jeff Coleman and Chris Frye called on fellow aspirant Teddy Daniels to stop making personal attacks against his opponents in online videos.

Although Pennsylvania’s governor and lieutenant governor are elected in separate primaries, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, vying to be the commonwealth’s chief executive, has named Daniels his running mate.

State Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, speaks at a Sept. 15, 2021 Senate hearing to approve subpoenas for a legislative investigation of the 2020 election as panel chair Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, listens. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

4. Senate committee investigating Pa. elections holds hearing on ballot drop boxes, Dems walk out

The Pennsylvania Senate committee investigating the 2020 general and 2021 primary elections saw a walkout from Democratic members after its Republican chairperson refused to swear in a conservative panel in its first public meeting since September.

“The Democrats will not participate in a kangaroo operation that is set up with no bipartisanship conversation beforehand, as is the case of all of the hearings that we do in this body,” Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, shouted as the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee sat at ease Thursday.

Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, who chairs the Republican-controlled panel, briefly suspended the hearing — publicly advertised as a meeting on ballot drop boxes — after Hughes directed a line of questions to Lehigh County Republican Committee Chairperson Joseph Vichot about a video showing an individual placing a handful of papers into a drop box in Lehigh County.

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 22: Demonstrators protest changes to the Affordable Care Act on June 22, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Senate Republican’s unveiled their revised health-care bill in Washington today, after fine tuning it in behind closed doors. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

5. Does the GOP want to repeal Obamacare? Take them literally and seriously | Wednesday Morning Coffee

Victoria Schiano’s son, Cole, is five-and-a-half. And he’s enduring what no kid his age should ever be asked to endure.

He has mitochondrial disease, lives with a a central line to his heart, and has a feeding tube connected to his stomach and his intestines. He also needs constant monitoring for his seizure disorder. He has anxiety. And he’s on the autism spectrum.

Schiano, of Downingtown, is her son’s primary caregiver. And that’s made it hard for her to hold a job, she said Tuesday during a press call organized by Pennsylvania Democrats.

But because of the Affordable Care Act, and its cost-saving measures and patient protection language, Schiano, and her husband Ryan, can shoulder the “hospital-level of care” that their son requires.

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week. 

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.