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Agricultural jobs, programs spared with state budget legislation

The state budget arrived just in time for spring, and agribusinesses in Pennsylvania are breathing a sigh of relief.

The Agricultural Research and Extension programs at Penn State will remain open, the university said.

The agricultural extension is the main educational network that provides resources and expertise to agribusinesses across the 67-county state, and its expertise includes responding to natural crises, as well as outbreaks of animal diseases and food-borne illnesses.

If the budget hadn’t passed by May 1, Penn State planned to close the extension programs due to zero funding. Closing the programs would have eliminated more than 1,100 jobs.

The budget that passed yesterday allows for $50.55 million, which is what was needed to keep the programs fully operational, noted a news release from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

The new budget also includes funding for other vital agricultural programs such as the Pa. Department of Agriculture, the Animal Health Commission, the Veterinary Lab system and state fairs.

“With the planting season right around the corner and the possible risk of new pests, diseases, avian influenza or countless other issues that challenge agriculture, farmers and the public need assurances that vital services and personnel will be on the job to identify, contain or negate those problems,” Rick Ebert, president of the Farm Bureau said. “The funding included in the new state budget should provide those assurance for agriculture.”  

Lenay Ruhl

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