House and Senate Republicans, with milkshakes in hand, gather in the Pa. Capitol rotunda to toast the looming passage of a suite of farm bills (Capital-Star photo).
A first-of-its-kind set of programs designed to support and invest in Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry has been fully funded for the fourth time, state agriculture officials said this week.
The budget, which was signed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last Friday, allocates $13.6 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year to the comprehensive set of programs known as the Pennsylvania Farm Bill.
“I’m grateful to Governor Wolf for continuing to keep agriculture a priority,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said on Wednesday. “This budget, with a nearly 30 percent increase in agriculture funding from last year, demonstrates the critical role agriculture and the people who care for our food and our environment serve in our commonwealth.”
The state Department of Agriculture reports that the Farm Bill has invested more than $54.4 million in the commonwealth’s agriculture industry since its inception, including in six key areas:
- $3.6 million to increase market opportunities
- $3 million to protect agricultural infrastructure
- $2.5 million to remove regulatory burdens
- $2 million for resources for agricultural business development and succession planning
- $1.5 million to create more processing capabilities
- $1 million to strengthen the agriculture workforce
The newly approved spending plan also allocates millions of dollars in federal American Rescue Plan funds to agricultural conservation efforts in Pennsylvania, including $154 million for a new Agricultural Conservation Assistance Program (ACAP) to provide cost-share to farmers, and $22 million for the existing Nutrient Management Fund, which “supports technical assistance for nutrient management planning and implementation,” according to the department.
“This budget is a testament to the tireless work of our department staff, our partners, and to everyone who works in Pennsylvania agriculture to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people and animals; protect our land, forests, water, and soil for the future; and power our $132.5 billion industry,” Redding said.
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