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Farm bureau concerned about some Gov. Wolf budget proposals

Stephen Huba
| Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, 9:40 a.m.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert, a fourth-generation dairy farmer from Blairsville, inspects his milking equipment recently.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert, a fourth-generation dairy farmer from Blairsville, inspects his milking equipment recently.

Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed budget provides a good starting point for discussions on key agricultural programs but also has some problem areas, said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert.

The Blairsville dairy farmer noted that the new budget proposal maintains existing funding levels for several programs, including agriculture research and Cooperative Extension services administered by Penn State University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

“We are pleased that the governor's proposal recognizes the important role programs overseen by Penn State and Penn VET play in helping farmers learn about and implement positive changes on their farms,” he said.

The farm bureau also backs the governor's call for an 8.5 percent increase to the Department of Agriculture's General Government Operations, which provides funding for jobs and services that support the agriculture industry.

Ebert said he is concerned about Wolf's proposal to zero out funding for a variety of programs, including the agricultural excellence programs and agricultural research administered by the state Agriculture Department.

“We plan to work with lawmakers from both parties and the Wolf administration in an effort to restore funding for those programs that would be eliminated under the governor's proposal,” he said.

On Tuesday, Wolf unveiled a budget plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 that would increase spending by $1 billion, or 3 percent, to $33 billion.

Budget hearings in the state legislature begin Feb. 20.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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