Thursday, February 18, 2010
Governor Rendell’s proposed budget would cut state agriculture spending by five percent, and would completely eliminate state support for county fairs and that has some a bit worried. Last year’s budget reduced grants to county fairs from $3.6 million to $2 million, and the proposed 2010-11 spending plan would completely eliminate that line item. Agriculture Secretary Russell Reading told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee his department will do everything it can to support the state’s 113 fairs, ““We will continue to work with them this year, with or without the money, to promote the fairs as part of the agrotourism effort. We’ll try to link them in so folks who are out to the fairs can also take in a farm market, and do the winery and a bed and breakfast and try to link a few of these things together and help promote them.” But during questioning, Senator Michael Waugh, a York County Republican, said the ongoing budget cuts have already left their mark, “It wasn’t too many years ago – maybe one – that that number was 116. So that’s exactly what reductions in funding for these excellent programs do. We’ve lost three fairs in a year this year. That says it all.” The proposed Agriculture Department budget comes in at just less than $101 million.