Gov. Josh Shapiro took his budget road show out for an initial test run on Wednesday, highlighting his $10.3 million Agriculture Innovation Fund.
Shapiro, along with Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, toured the 341-acre New Holland Agriculture plant in Lancaster County. The campus includes a 150-acre test farm and a 700,000-square-foot equipment manufacturing plant that provides 600 jobs.
“For the first time ever, our economic development strategy isn’t limited in its focus to our high rises or our suburban office parks – we understand that our economic success is dependent on our rural communities and our farmlands,” said the governor. “There’s real innovation happening all across our Commonwealth, especially on our farms. That’s why my budget places a special emphasis on agriculture, I want to help more farmers upgrade their equipment and take advantage of the latest technology through our Ag Innovation funding.
“High-tech innovations like New Holland Agriculture develops and produces depend on investment. New Holland Equipment may be part of our heritage – but it’s also a major employer today and a world-leader in driving the kind of innovation in ag that’s going to help Pennsylvania farmers for years to come. If we want to compete and succeed as a Commonwealth, then we have to invest in our farmers.”
“When Pennsylvania invests in agriculture, everybody wins. Our family farmers have innovated and fought to stay competitive in a tough marketplace, all the while being the original leaders in conserving our environment and our priceless soil and water resources,” said Redding. “This budget demonstrates that the Shapiro Administration is in their corner, continuing to feed opportunities for agriculture to grow, and for Pennsylvania’s economy to grow along with it.”
As part of his $48.3 billion budget, Shapiro is allocating $10.3 million for agriculture innovation to help support and attract new agricultural businesses, including energy and conservation endeavors. He has also earmarked $5.6 million to protect dairy farmers from harmful price fluctuations and an additional $5 million for a new state laboratory in western Pennsylvania that will provide much needed testing capacity, helping with rapid diagnosis and mitigation of future highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks across the state.
“CNH Industrial has a long-standing foundation in Pennsylvania Agriculture since the New Holland brand was founded here in Lancaster County, more than 125 years ago,” said Richard Heisey, Vice President for Product Engineering at CNH Industrial. “A vital part of our longstanding success has been the close work we do with our customers to break new ground in innovation, sustainability, and productivity. As we look forward, we see the pace of this innovation only continuing to accelerate, so we welcome this commitment to the continued spirit of Pennsylvania as an innovator in developing new technologies that move and feed not only our state and country, but the world.”
Shapiro was asked about comments made by Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) about the budget initiatives, saying the “proposal reflects an undisciplined strategy that lacks accountability” and that the “spend plan is reckless in a ‘unicorns and rainbows’ way.”
“This is a balanced budget that cuts taxes and we have a $14 billion surplus that I want to invest back in the people of Pennsylvania, not keep in some bank account controlled by the politicians in Harrisburg,” said Shapiro. “Even after we make these investments, if we do everything I propose, we’re still going to have $11 billion in surplus.
“No one in the Capitol should be OK falling behind when it comes to economic development,” he continued. “And the reason for that is we have failed to invest. Folks in the Senate … they’ve been in charge for the last two decades. And they’ve refused to make these investments. And as a result of that, we have fallen behind. I want to bet on the good people of Pennsylvania. I believe in them. And now is the time to make fiscally responsible investments that are fully paid for.”