Wolf’s Cuts Hurt Children, Threaten Food Supply
By Lancaster County Republican General Assembly Delegation

On Dec. 29, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the 2015-16 state budget, a balanced $30.3 billion, 12-month spending plan sent to him via a bipartisan Senate vote. This budget increased spending by more than $1 billion over the previous fiscal year’s budget, fully funding the state’s agriculture programs and historical increases in funding for preK-12 schools by $405 million.

When Wolf signed the budget, he used the authority of the governor’s office to cut $6.3 billion, including nearly every agriculture program and the cash prizes for the winners of contests at Pennsylvania’s recently ended 100th Farm Show. The kids competing in these contests were showing everything from sewn items, to food products, to animals. They competed in events like square dancing, and other contests, so the denial of the prizes are far reaching with kids across the state.

This is Mr. Wolf’s brazen attempt to hold the many children and young adults who won these prizes as pawns in his petty game of attrition to force unnecessary tax hikes on the middle class, plain and simple.

These children work very hard all year caring for, grooming and training their animals to be their best in a statewide contest. This hard work starts before the sun comes up and continues late into the night after they get home from school and finish their homework. These children are literally the farmers of tomorrow who will feed our nation.

These children have names and faces, such as 9-year-old Emma Oberholtzer of East Earl, who, as LNP reported, won big alongside her father when they showed both the champion Horned Dorset ram and ewe.

Emma’s Cheviot ewe lamb placed third in the youth division. Emma also was named outstanding young shepherd in her age group.

But there will be no cash prizes for Emma. Not even the $30 and $50 prizes most kids win will be seen this year by any child who won at the Farm Show – Tom Wolf made sure of that. The total amounts of these awards are so small in the entire scope of a state budget that it is very petty and small for the governor to withhold these prizes.

But denying the cash prizes is only the most visible damage Wolf has done to Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry with his budget cuts. He also zeroed out funding for fighting the avian flu right at the time infected birds are flying south and mingling with our flocks here in Lancaster County, home to 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s chicken flocks. We literally supply much of the northeastern United States with the bulk of its eggs and poultry.

Our delegation has been warning farmers and the public since early last year that the avian flu could reach us this fall and winter as geese with the diseases migrate south over our state and country. Now, the highly pathogenic H7N8 Avian Influenza has hit a commercial turkey flock in Indiana. What kind of governor plays deadly games with a nation’s food supply?

The Lancaster Republican Delegation to the General Assembly calls on Mr. Wolf to reverse course on his decision to cut our agriculture programs. He must stop holding our food supply and the many children who won Farm Show prizes as pawns in the governor’s petty game of attrition to force senseless tax hikes on the middle class.
Sadly, this news shouldn’t be a surprise since Wolf is the only governor in recent memory to not mention agriculture a single time in his first budget address. Agriculture is the state’s No.1 industry and Lancaster County’s leading economic driver. We hope Wolf reconsiders his latest political maneuvering.

Sen. Ryan Aument (36th District)
Sen. Lloyd Smucker (13th District)
Rep. Bryan Cutler (100th District)
Rep. Mindy Fee (37th District)
Rep. Dave Hickernell (98th District)
Rep. Keith Greiner (43rd District)
Rep. Steve Mentzer (97th District)
Rep. Brett Miller (41st District)
Rep. Dave Zimmerman (99th District)
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