Governor Shapiro Gets Stuff Done: Supporting Pennsylvania Farmers and Agriculture, Expanding Broadband Access, & Investing in Rural Communities
December 20, 2023
The Shapiro Administration took concrete steps to support Pennsylvania farmers and the agriculture industry, which supports one in 10 jobs and contributes $132 billion a year to Pennsylvania’s economy.
After receiving over $1 billion in federal funding to expand broadband infrastructure across Pennsylvania, the Shapiro Administration now has critical resources to connect Pennsylvania communities.
Harrisburg, PA – During his first year in office, Governor Josh Shapiro and his Administration took concrete steps to support Pennsylvania farmers and the agricultural industry. Governor Shapiro knows that farmers are a key driver in Pennsylvania’s economy, which is why he called for and delivered increased budget investments in Pennsylvania agriculture to continue supporting our farmers and agricultural workers and open up new markets for farmers.
In the 2023-24 budget, Governor Shapiro secured $31 million for the Hi-Path Avian Influenza Recovery Fund, $13.8 million to fully fund the Pennsylvania Farm Bill for the fifth year, and $1 million to create a new, first-of-its kind Organic Center for Excellence.
Additionally, thanks to federal funding, the Shapiro Administration and the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority are working together on a plan to expand broadband in unserved and underserved areas to make sure every Pennsylvanian has access to affordable, high-speed internet.
Read more about the Shapiro Administration’s work to support farmers and the agriculture industry and to expand broadband to rural communities below.
Supporting Pennsylvania Farmers, Reaching Critical Milestone of HPAI-Free
- Governor Shapiro and his Administration led a coordinated response to the Hi-Path Avian Influenza crisis. In August, Governor Shapiro and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced that Pennsylvania has reached the critical milestone of HPAI-free status recognized by the World Animal Health Organization. The designation marks a return to normal international trade conditions for Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry for the first time since April 2022.
- Since taking office in January, the Shapiro Administration has been focused on supporting Pennsylvania farmers by deploying a team of over 170 experts to help conduct testing and improve security measures on farms across the Commonwealth. A response team made up of hundreds of veterinarians and specialists from the PA Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Penn State Extension, and PennAg Industries worked side by side with poultry businesses to achieve this critical “HPAI-Free” milestone in Pennsylvania.
- The commonsense, bipartisan budget Governor Shapiro signed also increases funding for the Department of Agriculture by nearly 6.4%, supporting agricultural emergency preparedness and response, including $31 million to help poultry farmers impacted by the hi-path avian influenza crisis pay for testing and get reimbursed for losses to their flocks.
Supporting Pennsylvania’s Critical Agriculture Industry
Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector is a major economic driver for the Commonwealth, contributing $132 billion a year to the economy and making up 1 in 10 jobs in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is also third in the nation for organic sales, with more than $1 billion in sales last year and more than 1,100 certified organic farms across the Commonwealth.
The Governor’s secured outlined critical budget investments to support farmers and the agriculture industry, including:
- $31 million to help poultry farmers impacted by the avian flu crisis pay for testing and get reimbursed.
- $13.8 million to fully fund the Pennsylvania Farm Bill for the fifth year.
- A $2 million investment in the Fresh Food Financing Initiative that will contribute to better health outcomes by improving access to PA-grown, processed, and produced foods.
- $1 million to create a new, one of the first-of-its kind Organic Center for Excellence to empower and support organic farmers and businesses and signed legislation creating a PA Preferred Organic brand for locally grown organic agricultural products.
Expanding Broadband Access to Deliver Affordable, High-Speed Internet
- In June, Governor Shapiro announced the Commonwealth will receive more than $1.16 billion in federal funding to expand broadband in unserved and underserved areas to make sure every Pennsylvanian has access to affordable, high-speed internet. The funding is coming to Pennsylvania through the federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and is part of President Biden’s “Internet for All” initiative.
- Thanks to this significant investment, the Shapiro Administration will now have the resources it needs to connect Pennsylvanians to the internet and ensure they can go to school, start and grow businesses, and access telemedicine no matter where they live.
- The $1.16 billion in BEAD funding to the Commonwealth will be administered by the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, an independent, bipartisan agency created by law in December 2021.
- The PBDA has worked with Penn State Extension to identify more than 50,000 locations in Pennsylvania that lack access to high-speed internet but weren’t included in the federal government’s initial map. The Federal Communications Commission has upheld 32,000 of those submitted, making those locations eligible for federal BEAD funding and helping to ensure our Commonwealth received its share of this funding.
- The PBDA is now working to complete a five-year action plan for Pennsylvania’s BEAD allocation, which will set the vision for the implementation of these funds. Following the NTIA’s approval of the plan, the PBDA plans to begin awarding subgrants to approved, eligible applicants in 2024.
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