The state government will provide $16 million for ag programs
By Diego Flammini
Pennsylvania lawmakers have authorized millions of dollars in spending for the state’s ag sector.
On Nov. 23, Governor Tom Wolf signed the state’s $35.5 billion budget into law. The budget uses $1.3 billion of CARES Act funding to keep the government running until June.
Of the total budget, $16 million is pegged for the state’s second Farm Bill. Gov. Wolf signed the first one into law in July 2019.
“We really appreciate that the governor and the general assembly saw the need for investments in agriculture and saw a reason to make (the industry) a priority,” Liam Migdail, communications director with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, told Farms.com. “It’s a clear message that agriculture is a sector is an important part of any COVID-19 recovery.”
Some of the funding in the Pennsylvania Farm Bill includes:
- $2 million for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center
- $2 million for the Conservation Excellence Grant program, which encourages farmers to use best management practices
- $3 million for the state’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Tax
Spending measures like these will help farmers come out of the other side of the pandemic.
In fact, many producers have already taken steps to change the way they do business to explore other revenue streams.
“We’re seeing a real shift in how our ag sector is structured,” Migdail said. “More farms are shifting away from selling commodities through traditional markets and moving towards direct consumer sales.”
In April, at least four meat processing facilities in the state had to shut down because of COVID-19 concerns.
This led to empty grocery store shelves and consumers engaging with local farmers, Migdail said.
“There was a breakdown in the supply chain and consumers turned to do business with their local producers,” he said. “But it wasn’t just beef and pork producers, we saw it too with fruits and vegetables and dairy farmers too.”