Op-ed: Politically Motivated Agriculture Cuts Could Create Grave Consequences

by Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46)

Programs devoted to agriculture make up a relatively small percentage of total state government spending, but the value of these programs cannot be overstated. Funding for agriculture helps monitor and protect our food supply against pests and disease, research new ways to promote efficiency and sustainability, minimize environmental impacts, and educate the next generation of farmers.

It is important to understand that these line items are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet; they represent some of the most important programs and services that protect the health, well-being and economic security of our Commonwealth.

Given the immense importance of agriculture to our state’s economy and our way of life, it is extremely disappointing that the Department of Agriculture’s budget bore the brunt of Governor Wolf’s budget vetoes. In particular, the elimination of funding for the Penn State College of Agricultural Science and related programs threatens to unravel a productive partnership that has led to tremendous advancements in terms of how we produce, inspect and protect the products that Pennsylvanians rely on every day.

Throughout the budget process, lawmakers and the Governor have voiced differences of opinion regarding a wide range of issues, but the importance of agriculture has never been a point of contention. There is bipartisan agreement that these programs have immense value, and lawmakers met or exceeded the Governor’s funding requests for a wide variety of agricultural programs in the current year’s budget. It is disappointing that Governor Wolf has now managed to turn an area of agreement into an issue of argument.

This sort of partisan mischief is exactly the sort of political maneuver that leads people to lose faith in their elected officials and state government as a whole. It is critical for all sides of the debate to move past the bickering that has marred the budget process over the past year and explore real solutions to the problems facing Pennsylvania. The best way we can start that process is by releasing funding for programs that literally put safe, healthy food on the table for millions of state residents every day.

CONTACT:    Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463