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PENNSYLVANIA FARMERS' ASSOCIATION SAYS CASEY'S BUDGET PROPOSAL WILL SHORTCHANGE AGRICULTURE AND PENNSYLVANIANS

 PENNSYLVANIA FARMERS' ASSOCIATION SAYS CASEY'S BUDGET
 PROPOSAL WILL SHORTCHANGE AGRICULTURE AND PENNSYLVANIANS
 CAMP HILL, Pa., Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Gov. Robert P. Casey's budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year will shortchange agriculture and all Pennsylvanians, according to the Pennsylvania Farmers' Association (PFA).
 It will deprive Pennsylvania agriculture of animal health care and research support and could place an additional tax burden on property owners across the state.
 "The governor, in response to the lean economic climate, has proposed an austere budget that won't require an increase in state taxes," said PFA President Keith Eckel. "However, it will force school boards to seek higher revenues at the local level. This is distressing for all taxpayers but especially farmers since they bear a disproportionate share of the local tax bill."
 Eckel said the governor's budget, by keeping the basic education subsidies to school districts at the 1991-92 level, will actually cause a $125 million shortfall statewide because of spending increases required for state-mandated programs and other requirements. "Farmers fear that school boards will have no choice but to raise real estate taxes," Eckel said. "Studies have shown that property tax burdens for farmers are consistently higher at every income level than for nonfarmers."
 The governor's budget proposal also completely eliminates state funding for the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. "This could put the state's only vet school in jeopardy," Eckel said. "That would be a tremendous loss. The school not only educates 75 percent of the veterinarians working in Pennsylvania but also provides valuable animal health and research services for the state's livestock, poultry and equine industries. Loss of support for the vet school, including its Center for Animal Health and Productivity and its food and animal clinics, would be devastating for Pennsylvania agriculture," said the PFA leader.
 Also facing total loss of state funding under the governor's 1992-93 budget is the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board. "This is an agency that benefits both the dairy industry and consumers," said Eckel. "It works diligently to provide stability for the dairy industry and to provide consumers with an adequate supply of wholesome milk. We think it's very short-sighted to completely pull the rug out from under this valuable agency," Eckel said.
 Other important agricultural programs have also been targeted for budget cutbacks by the governor including ag research and extension services at the Pennsylvania State University, support for the FFA and funding for commodity promotion programs at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. "All of these cutbacks will be detrimental to the state's No. 1 industry," said Eckel.
 "If budget cuts are necessary then let's do them," Eckel said, "but let's not target agriculture and rural residents for an unfair share. Budget cuts should be leveled evenly across-the-board. Total elimination of support for certain agencies and programs is not in the best interest of agriculture or Pennsylvania citizens. PFA will seek a better deal for agriculture in the 1992-93 state budget."
 PFA is a voluntary, statewide organization which represents 23,049 families and 54 county associations.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/21/92
 /CONTACT: Janet B. Carson or Wilson Smeltz of the Pennsylvania Farmers' Association, 717-761-2740/ CO: Pennsylvania Farmers' Association ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


MP-KA -- PH007 -- 1356 02/21/92 11:32 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 21, 1992
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