Penn State Cuts Threaten Farmers

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s recent budget, proposed last month, threatens the health of Pennsylvania farms, according to some local farmers. Governor Corbett’s budget includes several deep spending cuts, many of which target Penn State and other Pennsylvania public schools and colleges. The problem inherent in cutting Penn State’s funding, some farmers say, is that it threatens several agricultural research programs located at the university.

Agricultural research at Penn State has played an important role in Pennsylvania agriculture for decades. In the 1990s, for example, plum pox, a virus that attacked peach, plum, and nectarine plants, was discovered in several Pennsylvania farms. Researchers from Penn State worked with local farmers and, through an aggressive campaign of eradication of infected trees, managed to stop the disease.

More recently, Pennsylvania faced an infestation of stink bugs, pests that pose little threat to human health, but posed serious damage to Pennsylvania agricultural production. Farmers developed non-toxic responses to the stink bug infestation thanks to research done at Penn State.

Some farmers have expressed fears that budget cuts at Penn State will threaten the agricultural research done there. Reducing or eliminating agricultural programs at the university, they say, could threaten the long-term health of Pennsylvania agriculture, damage which could impact the state’s economic recovery and growth.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer