Farmers’ concerns aired at PFB’s legislative conference
|From left to right: Farmers David Bentrem of Washington County, Lonnie Brewster of Green County and Jamie Finch of Washington County met with state Senator Tim Solobay in Harrisburg as part of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's State Legislative Conference.|
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- More than 350 farmers from across Pennsylvania met with members of the state General Assembly on National Agriculture Day to discuss priority issues affecting farm families, including funding for agriculture programs under the state budget. As part of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s (PFB) State Legislative Conference, farmers also held conversations with lawmakers about broad issues impacting all Pennsylvanians, such as transportation funding and pension reform.
“Farmers are dependent upon the sufficient maintenance and safety of roads and bridges in order to keep products flowing to and from the farm. Having milk trucks, feed trucks and other essential deliveries diverted by road and bridge repairs or new lower weight limits can cause major headaches and increase costs to the farm,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer. “Farmers are also deeply interested in efforts to reform the public pension system, because the burden of an unfunded liability would likely fall on all Pennsylvanians through higher property taxes. Since owning large amounts of land is a necessity for many involved in agriculture, increases in property taxes would be especially devastating to farm families.”
Farm Bureau members talked to lawmakers about the state budget, impressing upon them the need to increase funding by 38% (or $1.65 million) for the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission Laboratories, which have been grossly underfunded over the past five years. PFB also called for a more than 5% increase in funding for Agriculture Research and Cooperative Extension programs administered by Penn State.
“We need to ensure that programs like the Diagnostic Labs, which help protect our food supply and animal agriculture, are adequately funded to protect consumers and the farming community. Adequate support is also needed for research programs that result in food production and animal welfare breakthroughs and programs that provide technical assistance to help farmers make additional conservation improvements,” added Shaffer.
PFB’s State Legislative Conference took place on National Agriculture Day, the day set aside to recognize the role farmers play in providing a safe, abundant and affordable supply of food to families across the nation.
“As farmers, we look at National Agriculture Day as an opportunity to remind the public how much we truly care about the quality of the food we produce and the commitment we have to treating our animals well and being good stewards of the land,” concluded Shaffer.