HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) — There are some critical investments for Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry in Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed budget. Some key investments include $34 million to continue the fight against avian flu.
Pennsylvania’s $7 billion poultry industry has been hit hard by the avian flu, as have egg prices. The proposed funding adds $25 million dollars in grants for affected poultry farmers to recover losses from the avian flu.
Many of the proposals provide the same levels of funding as previous years, which is a welcomed sight for some Republicans.
“There is a lot in the ag world, I appreciate they left a lot of those lines that we fight to put back in, those are in there,” said Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford).
Shapiro’s proposal fully-funds the PA Farm Bill for the fifth year at nearly $14 million. The PA Farm Bill is a comprehensive package of initiatives and funding to grow a more resilient agriculture industry, while also reducing barriers for the next generation of farmers.
“Growing and maintaining Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry takes targeted, thoughtful investments and resources for innovation,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget makes it clear that he values Pennsylvania farmers and the hard work we do to keep Pennsylvanians safe and keep them fed. We look forward to working with the Governor, General Assembly, and our industry partners throughout the budget process,” he added.
Mental health in the agriculture industry was another priority included in Shapiro’s proposal. According to the administration, farming has some of the highest rates of suicide of any occupation. Shapiro’s proposal invests $200,000 to provide support services such as a mental health hotline, specialized trainings, and outreach to the agricultural community.
Food security was another important topic. Federal emergency benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recently expired. Now, Shapiro is proposing a new state investment in SNAP to raise the minimum monthly benefit by 50-percent.