February 19, 2016
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:
House Majority Leader
House Minority Leader
House Appropriations Chair
House Democrat Appropriations Chair
House Majority Whip
House Minority Whip
House Ag and Rural Affairs Chair
House Ag and Rural Affairs Democrat Chair
Senate President Pro Tempore
Senate Majority Floor Leader
Senate Minority Floor Leader
Senate Appropriations Committee Chair
Senate Appropriations Committee Minority Chair
Senate Majority Whip
Senate Minority Whip
Senate Ag and Rural Affairs Chair
Senate Ag and Rural Affairs Democrat Chair
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)
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.
You May Also Like
Nitrogen price is the ‘problem child'Feb 06, 2023
Best bets for controlling spring weedsFeb 06, 2023
Cotton: Continued market volatility expected for 2023Jan 18, 2023
Farmer sentiment starts 2023 strongFeb 07, 2023
Midwest Digest, Feb. 7, 2023Feb 07, 2023
Brazil’s soy harvest delays lift U.S. export hopesJan 19, 2023
Benefiting from soil microbes headlines Soil Health SymposiumFeb 07, 2023