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4-H, Extension and ag research need Penn State line-item backers

Pa. governor puts critical Penn State funding into a budgetary ‘hostage situation. 4-H and College of Ag Sciences need your help.

John Vogel

February 19, 2016

4 Min Read

On February 3, we shared that Governor Tom Wolf has put Penn State Ag Sciences, Extension, 4-H and Master Gardeners into a 2016 budgetary “hostage crisis” by line-item vetoing critical funding. See Zero funding by Pa governor risks major ag program damage . He couldn’t have picked a better hostage, particularly with the widespread support of 4-H, ag research and Extension.

If zero-funding of the Land Scrip Fund stands, it would eliminate much of Penn State Extension, the college's ag research stations, severely damage local Extension work and cost the state approximately $80 million of federal money leveraged by these state funds. Flagship programs such as 4-H and Master Gardener would be discontinued. 

Nothing’s changed since February 3, except that the greater ag community is rising up in indignation. I’m told by insiders that it’s going to get nasty before it’s over. It’ reach fever pitch by March 9. More on that shortly.

I’m not exaggerating by calling it a “hostage situation”. Apparently, the governor and the legislature have never learned the art of negotiation. Earlier this year, school district funding was in a similar hostage situ.

As a political neophyte, first-termer Wolf’s gubernatorial campaign platform was built around greater elementary school funding. Apparently, he wants it all now – not incrementally staggered over the next few years.

State worker pension reform and selling the state liquor system are huge bargaining chips that don’t seem to be on the table. Without that, the Commonwealth still faces sizable tax increases to just keep spending deficit from spiraling out of control. I'm guessing he was smart enough to pick a high-leverage hostage, to draw in 4-H and gardening supporters.

Your help is needed
Penn State College of Agriculture’s Ag Council will hold a rally in the capitol’s Main Rotundra at 1 p.m., Wednesday, March 9 to demonstrate strong support for the college, Extension and the many related ag and consumer programs. The House budget hearing on this Department of Agriculture House issue will be at 1:30 p.m. in Room 140 Main Capitol.

Afterwards, attendees will be urged to take information regarding the issue and impacts to their legislative representatives. Registration isn’t required.

Not big on rallies?
You can still share your strong support for restoration of the Land Scrip Fund with key players in this political game. Here’s their contact info:





Thomas Wolf


Fax: (717) 772-8284

Mike Turzai

House Speaker

(717) 772-9943

Dave Reed

House Majority Leader

(717) 705-7173

Frank Dermody

House Minority Leader

(717) 787-3566

William Adolph

House Appropriations  Chair

(717) 787-1248

Joseph Markosek

House Democrat Appropriations Chair

(717) 783-1540

Bryan Cutler

House Majority Whip

(717) 783-6424

Michael Hanna

House Minority Whip

(717) 772-2283

Marty Causer

House Ag and Rural Affairs Chair

(717) 787-5075

Mike Carrol

House Ag and Rural Affairs Democrat Chair

(717) 787-3589





Joesph Scarnati

Senate President Pro Tempore

(717) 787-7084

Jake Corman

Senate Majority Floor Leader

(717) 787-1377

Jay Costa

Senate Minority Floor Leader

(717) 787-7683

Patrick Browne

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair

(717) 787-1349

Vincent Hughes

Senate Appropriations Committee Minority Chair

(717) 787-7112

John Gordner

Senate Majority Whip

(717) 787-8928

Anthony Williams

Senate Minority Whip

(717) 787-5970

Elder Vogel

Senate Ag and Rural Affairs Chair

(717) 787-3076

Judy Schwank

Senate Ag and Rural Affairs Democrat Chair

(717) 787-8925

So where’s the master negotiator, George Wolff (No relation to Tom.), when he’s needed? Probably stealthly padding through the capitol’s halls at least in spirit.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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