$16 million allotted to Pennsylvania Farm Bill

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Pennsylvania farmland

Pennsylvania Farm Bill programs got $16 million from the 2020-21 Pennsylvania budget that Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Nov. 23.

The $11 billion spending package includes no new taxes and level funding for most agricultural programs. This legislation completes the state’s annual operating budget and brings it up to about $36.5 billion.

Missing from that funding though is the Dairy Investment Program. The $5 million Dairy Investment Program was not listed among the programs funded for 2020-21. The program gave grants to dozens of farms and processors to sustain and expand their businesses through value added processing, research and development and marketing.

The PA Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, used in the fight against the invasive spotted lanternfly, was funded at $3 million, a drop of $1 million from the previous year.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bill, passed in 2019, was a unique  package of bills that invested more than $23 million in Pennsylvania agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a Nov. 30 statement the investment Pennsylvania made in agriculture through its Farm Bill programs made 2020 “a little less painful for some, and put others in a position to pivot and meet radically altered demand.”

“That foresight into what this industry and our commonwealth’s food supply chain needed was spot on, and we look forward to using this next round of funding to strengthen the weak links found as we maneuvered a pandemic,” Redding said.

Pennsylvania lawmakers chose to do the budget in two parts this year, while they waited to see what the economic damage from the coronavirus would be and if the federal government would deliver more aid.

During a normal year, the budget would be done by June 30. A spending package passed in May funded things through Nov. 30.

The budget included $3.3 billion in federal pandemic aid and the transfer of more than $500 million from off-budget state accounts to cover deficits.

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