HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania will be better able to protect its food supply and livestock with the 2006-07 budget signed by Gov. Edward G. Rendell, said state Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff.
Wolff said some of the largest increases in funding are for the Animal Health Commission, which will receive $6.7 million this year; and crop insurance, which will receive $3 million.
“Two of the department’s most crucial programs will be enhanced by this budget,” said Wolff. “Protecting the state’s livestock and food supply through testing and research is clearly essential not only to farmers, but to all Pennsylvanians.”
Moving protection. With the additional animal health funds, the state will purchase a mobile laboratory capable of immediate on-site analysis of animal-related biological threats. The funds will also be used to hire an avian influenza surveillance coordinator and provide enhanced protective gear for first-responders.
Research. Agricultural research will receive $3 million through the new budget, .
The department of agriculture will continue to address avian influenza, biosecurity, plum pox and nutrient management through research.
Insurance. When individuals in production agriculture encounter difficult times from severe weather or infestation, the $3 million in the state’s crop insurance program will be instrumental in helping farmers return to profitability.
Preservation. The budget also includes more than $500,000 to administer the state’s largest-ever commitment to farmland preservation. Earlier this year, the governor announced the availability of an additional $100 million for farmland preservation, $65 million of which is from Growing Greener II, a comprehensive initiative to protect the environment and conserve natural resources.
This funding will help preserve 67,000 additional acres on more than 500 farms.
Food safety. The state’s food safety and inspection service received an additional $400,000 to enhance and support the recently implemented digital health system. The system is used by the department of agriculture for inspecting, licensing and reporting food establishments across the commonwealth.
Achieving excellence. The budget provides new funding and support for agricultural excellence initiatives, which include the Department of Agriculture’s Centers for Farm Transition and Dairy Excellence, Agricultural Law Center and a new fruit industry initiative.
The programs work to enhance various aspects of the agriculture industry through outreach and support.
Wolff highlighted other priorities of the $315 million 2006-07 budget (increases are from 2005-06 fiscal year):
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