State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich: PSU’s agricultural programs shouldn’t be next victim of state budget crisis

Sid Michaels Kavulich - Contributing columnist | March 9th, 2016 4:24 pm

We are all hidden victims of the state budget crisis and lawmakers who refuse to compromise; but now we’re facing deep cuts to programs that literally help put food on our tables.

We’ve already seen our property taxes skyrocket, education slashed and social programs reduced or eliminated. Now, the budget crisis is looming over funding for agriculture – most notably, the agricultural extension programs that are a model for this nation.

Agriculture adds more than $8 billion to our economy each year, and Penn State University’s agricultural extension programs – national leaders in innovation and progress – help deliver that benefit. Our small investment in the school pays off massively. Here in the United States, we spend about 10 percent of our income on food, compared to up to 20 percent in other developed nations.

Schools such as Penn State do the research and get modern methods to our farmers – who need to be biologists, chemists and accountants themselves these days – and the savings are passed on to us.

These agricultural extensions are not funded through tuition, but through the state’s annual budget.

If we fail to address these needs, we very well might lose extension and quite possibly the entire College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State.

With a lack of funding, not only will more than 1,000 direct jobs be lost, but also countless others in farming, trucking, processing, food services and industries related to agriculture. As a final blow to the future of our farms, the budget crisis could mean the end of the 4-H program – meaning even fewer young people will choose agriculture as a career.

As minority vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, I will continue the fight and urge everyone to do the same. Contact your state representative and state senator and tell them we need to act before it’s too late.

The lack of a state budget is putting pressure on our schools, our social service agencies and now, Pennsylvania’s number-one industry.

I urge all of my colleagues to get back to Harrisburg and address this crisis.

Sid Michaels Kavulich

Contributing columnist

Sid Michaels Kavulich, of Taylor, is state representative for the 114th Legislative District and serves as the Democratic vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. For information, visit