Governor Wolf Touts Work to Build Vibrant Agriculture Industry, Rural Communities in PA during Visit to Ag Progress Days
August 16, 2017
Pennsylvania Furnace, PA – During a visit to Penn State University’s Ag Progress Days, Governor Tom Wolf today called Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry one of its most important economic and environmental resources, and he stressed the need to continue supporting the industry for its long-term success.
“As a former agricultural extension worker during my time in the Peace Corps, I know firsthand how agriculture can play a role in building vibrant communities, a vibrant economy, and the power of food to change lives,” said Governor Wolf during his remarks to 600 business leaders and policymakers from all levels of government. “And in talking to and working with many of you, I know that you share those beliefs. That is why my administration has invested so heavily in agriculture.
“Despite unprecedented fiscal challenges, we’ve increased funding to the department and to the industry. We’re working across agencies and sectors to bring renewed focus to the workforce challenges that plague the industry and to revitalize agricultural education so more students are prepared for careers in the food and fiber industries. And we’re making sure farmers are recognized for their inherent culture of stewardship as we work to improve water quality across the state, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”
Last year, Governor Wolf proposed the largest-ever level of operational funding for the Department of Agriculture. Since 2015, the administration has increased operational support by more than $5.8 million — a 23 percent increase. The Wolf administration has also committed another $2 million for avian influenza planning and response; increased funding for farmland preservation by more than $12.5 million — a 45 percent increase — compared to 2014-15; and done more to connect producers to the commonwealth’s charitable food system through $1 million in new funding in each of the past three years.
Working with the General Assembly, the administration increased funding to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences and Cooperative Extension by more than $6 million over the past three years as part of a bipartisan effort to help restore a portion of the 19 percent cut the college endured in 2011.
During his remarks, the Governor also called on the General Assembly to complete its work on the 2017-18 state budget.
“I want to see the commonwealth continue to invest in this college, this university and this industry,” he added, “But to do that, we need a responsible budget that is balanced with sustainable revenues. Without a balanced budget, the investments that we need to make in this industry are in jeopardy, and the organizations that support our industries, places like Penn State, are in danger of losing funding. I am not willing to let that happen. I’m not willing to put our most valuable resources and industries in jeopardy.”
Governor Wolf also outlined current work to support the industry—now and into the future—through the development of a 10-year strategic plan. The plan will be designed to put the state’s agriculture industry—including everything from production farming and food manufacturing to the state’s equine, hardwoods, landscaping and nursery industries—in the best possible competitive position regionally, nationally and globally over the next decade.
“As Secretary Redding has often said, these are extraordinary times in agriculture,” Governor Wolf concluded. “While there are certainly challenges, I believe there are far greater opportunities, and I want Pennsylvania to be a place where those in agriculture can stay in agriculture and where those who want to enter the industry feel welcome. I want Pennsylvania to be a place where everyone — regardless of background or zip code — has a chance to succeed. A place where government isn’t standing in the way because it lacks the resources to be supportive or because it puts up unnecessary roadblocks to responsible development. That is my pledge to you.”