WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Arlen Specter, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Bob Casey, the junior senator from Pennsylvania, announced today that the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved federal funding for several agricultural Pennsylvania projects as contained in the Fiscal Year 2008 Agriculture Appropriations bill.
“These programs will strengthen the state’s agricultural industry by developing innovative technologies to improve production and management of Pennsylvania’s farms,” Senator Specter said. “I applaud my Congressional colleagues for funding these agricultural projects that are fundamental to keeping Pennsylvania’s economy strong.”
“Pennsylvania’s farmers are an important part of our state’s economy, earning $45 billion a year in direct and indirect revenues,” said Senator Casey. “This funding will give our agriculture industry a much needed boost while developing new technologies for our farmers, and I thank the members of the Appropriations Committee for approving these projects.”
The bill awaits action on the Senate floor and must be approved by the House of Representatives and the President of the United States before funding is final.
Funding has been approved for the following Pennsylvania agriculture projects:
$788,000 for the Milk Safety program at Penn State University to help researchers better understand the microbiology of the Listeria organism to ensure a safe milk supply.
$500,000 for the Dairy Farm Profitability project at Penn State University to research the economic and social dimensions of dairy farming in an attempt to help farmers increase their profitability.
$333,000 for Agricultural Entrepreneurial Alternatives for Small Farmers at Penn State University to deliver farm and community level educational programs and assistance.
$300,000 for the Cooperative Livestock Protection Program to expand the program to all Pennsylvania’s 59,000 agricultural producers. The program, operated by the Pennyslvania Department of Agriculture and USDA, provides technical and operational assistance in identifying, controlling, and abating damage, animal health problems and economic loss caused by certain nuisance wildlife species.
$220,000 for Aquaculture Research at the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania in Delaware County to conduct research in urban aquaculture processes and technology.
$190,000 for Sustainable Agriculture at the Rodale Institute in Berks County, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State University, to research sustainable field crop production. This funding will help provide science-based alternatives to Pennsylvania farmers to adopt more sustainable farming practices.
$100,000 for the Center for Dairy Excellence in Dauphin County to develop and provide technical support to Pennsylvania dairy producers through existing and new programs developed by the Center.
In addition, the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has granted funding for the following national programs that are expected to benefit Pennsylvania:
$1.5 million for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and related pollinator threats. CCD is a phenomenon, first identified in November 2006, in which worker honey bees from a colony abruptly disappear. In Pennsylvania, Honeybees and pollination are worth $65 million annually through their contributions to fruit crop, forage, and bee products. This funding will allow the USDA to continue its research, in collaboration with universities, including the Pennsylvania State University, on efforts to combat CCD.
$1.2 million for the Viticulture Consortium to provide for grape and wine research in Pennsylvania, New York, and California. The consortium assists grape producers in improving yields, reducing production costs, and increasing product.
$25.862 million for combating Emerald Ash Borer. This funding will enable states infested with the Emerald Ash Borer to manage the spread of the invasive species from further infecting ash trees, as well as to develop techniques and technologies to eradicate the pest. The beetle was recently discovered in Butler County.
$2.710 million for Plum Pox research. The Plum Pox virus is the most serious disease of stone fruits, making the fruit unmarketable and causing tree decline and death. The disease was first discovered in the United States in Adams County in 1999.
$13.140 million for Johne’s Disease research. This funding will further research to control and eliminate Johne's disease in cattle, sheep, goats and deer. The disease is a bacterial infection that causes decreased milk production, reduced fertility and death. According to USDA, about 22 percent of U.S. dairy farms are infected with this disease.
$7 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. This funding will provide assistance to states to enhance the competitiveness of their state’s specialty crops. Pennsylvania is eligible to submit an application to USDA for $100,000. In addition, Pennsylvania would receive money that represents the proportion of the value of specialty crop production in relation to the national value of specialty crop production.
$750,000 for the Veterinary Medical Services Act. This funding will help the USDA to implement the National Veterinary Medical Services Act to provide student loan repayment to veterinary school graduates who agree to work in underserved areas of the country.