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Governor Wolf visits Ag Progress Days

Family farms, funding at the forefront of industry discussion

ROCK SPRINGS – Governor Tom Wolf appeared happy to be in Happy Valley during a visit to Penn State University’s Ag Progress Days.

Wolf spoke Wednesday afternoon to agriculture industry leaders, policymakers and stakeholders. He took the podium amid standing applause, noting there are “so many good things” coming out of the fields and farms in central Pennsylvania.

“These are extraordinary times in agriculture,” he said, acknowledging agriculture as the biggest industry statewide.

Last year, Wolf proposed the largest-ever operational budget for the Department of Agriculture. Since 2015, he said, the administration has increased funding by more than $5.8 million, a 23 percent increase. The administration has also increased funding for avian influenza planning and response, farmland preservation and the commonwealth’s charitable food system.

As part of a bipartisan effort, the administration also helped restore a portion of funding to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Cooperative Extension after it was cut by 19 percent in 2011.

“I want to see the commonwealth continue to invest” in agriculture, he said. “I don’t want the good things in agriculture to be in jeopardy.”

Wolf spoke to FFA students in the audience, encouraging them to consider returning to family business.

“There is no better business with greater opportunities than the family farm,” he urged, adding that people need what comes out of the fields and farms in Pennsylvania.

Wolf also addressed water quality, which was the topic of numerous presentations and informational sessions at this year’s Ag Progress Days. Pennsylvania makes up a large portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and much of the bay’s cleanup depends upon the work of the agricultural sector.

Wolf said Penn State recently conducted a survey that found hundreds of thousands of farmers have implemented “greener” technologies to improve water quality on their own dime. Because the initiatives are not government-funded, farmers don’t get the recognition they should, he said.

During his remarks, Wolf said there are challenges ahead for Pennsylvania agriculture, but urged there are “far greater opportunities.”

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