– Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2022-2023 budget would eliminate agriculture funding critical to animal health. Wolf’s budget would cut funding for the Pennsylvania Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission, and funding intended to support certain operations within the state’s Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services. The commission and bureau facilitate in-state research, testing and surveillance of livestock and poultry diseases.
After a historic outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the 1980s that had a devastating impact on Pennsylvania’s poultry industry and economy, efforts to provide for surveillance and mitigation were implemented.
The commission, established by the state Legislature in 1988, provides Pennsylvania farmers with the expertise of animal health specialists, diagnostic testing labs, and the ability to identify disease outbreaks before they spread and reach crisis levels. Having such a resource in-state resulted in the swift and successful mitigation of outbreaks of HPAI here in the 1990s, which saved poultry producers and consumers tens of thousands of dollars.
“As a member of the commission, I am acutely aware of the importance of planned interventions instead of crisis interventions when it comes to animal disease outbreaks,” said Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams), chairman of the Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. “An outbreak of HPAI was recently identified in a commercial turkey flock in Indiana. HPAI has also been discovered in wild birds along migratory flyways over Pennsylvania. African swine fever is present in Puerto Rico and we are watching our ports and airports to make sure it does not enter Pennsylvania and wipe out our commercial hog farms. Our surveillance efforts are crucial to a quick response and to prevent the spread of deadly diseases like HPAI.”
Pennsylvania’s livestock and poultry production have an economic impact of nearly $6 billion.
“HPAI is at our doorstep and other diseases remain a constant threat,” said Moul. “Since food insecurity is a priority of the Wolf administration, I am baffled the governor is not making the protection of Pennsylvania’s food supply a top priority.”