HARRISBURG — Governor Tom Corbett’s 2014-15 budget proposal makes important investments to the Department of Agriculture and the economy-driving agriculture industry.
“An investment in agriculture is an investment in our future,” said Corbett. “In providing jobs and $68 billion in economic impact to communities across Pennsylvania, agriculture remains the cornerstone of our economy.”
One in seven jobs is related to agriculture and 97 percent of the more than 62,000 Pennsylvania farms are family owned.
“Every Pennsylvanian relies on the department’s inspection services that impact their health and financial security,” said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. “Governor Corbett’s budget proposal builds on last year’s successes by increasing funding for those regulatory functions for the first time in six years. It also continues the investment in research and outreach from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.”
The department conducts inspections through its bureaus of Food Safety, Plant Industry and Ride and Measurement Standards. As counties and localities have turned over local inspection responsibilities to the state, the department has faced an increased workload without a corresponding funding increase. Services have kept pace only through efficiencies and cost-cutting measures.
Since 2008, weights and measures inspection requirements have increased by more than 25 percent, while the number of eating establishments requiring inspections has increased by 1,011 facilities since 2009. This budget increase assists with the department’s additional expenses.
The Department of Agriculture budget proposal:
·Provides $2 million in additional funding to help cover the department and its animal health, food safety, plant industry and weights and measures regulatory inspections;
·Adds $1.5 million in funding for Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences totaling $47.7 million for agricultural research and extension at Penn State;
·Maintains funding for the Veterinary School at the University of Pennsylvania at $28 million for veterinary activities and $261,000 for the school’s Center for Infectious Diseases;
·Ensures critical funding for the State Food Purchase Program at nearly $17.4 million to help food insecure Pennsylvanians; and
·Continues funding for county fairs, at $3 million, that attract more than six million visitors each year and showcase the best of local agriculture.
“This budget proposal is a commitment to agriculture and to our state’s consumers,” Corbett said.