Feb. 22, 2024

Department of Agriculture (Ag) Secretary Russell Redding, and Executive Deputy Secretary Greg Hosttetter testified today before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on proposed spending increases for the Department and how these new dollars will directly help Pennsylvania farmers. Additionally, Republicans asked, and were again dismayed, at the lack of planning for another of the Governor’s key budget initiatives – adult-use cannabis regulated by the Department of Agriculture.

Key Takeaways

· Following a concerning trend of the Governor’s Budget Proposal, the Department of Agriculture could not share any plans on how the Department plans to implement adult-use cannabis starting June 30, 2024. Once again, Republicans were left stunned that the Department had no legislation or other details to provide to the committee. The Governor’s budget relies on passage of this initiative to provide more than $500 million over the next five years to balance his budget.

· While the Governor’s proposal includes millions in new spending, it was unclear how these programs will help farmers directly.

o House Republicans have always supported growing the agriculture industry in Pennsylvania, but there must be an emphasis on supporting our current farmers, no matter what they grow or raise.

· Pennsylvania’s Dairy Farmers are an integral part of our economy. House Republicans support efforts to ensure Dairy Farmers receive continued support in the FY 2024-25 Budget.

· Governor Shapiro has proposed funding for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine through the Department of Agriculture. House Republicans remain concerned the University of Pennsylvania has made no progress on addressing antisemitism on campus.

Notable Q&A

Rep. Natalie Mihalek questions Ag Sec. Russell Redding on why certain programs were increased in the budget, and how the department will handle leading the Governor’s proposal for adult use cannabis in Pennsylvania. 

Rep. Eric Nelson asked why the Department of Agriculture is spending more on new programs but flatlining support for existing farmers. 

Full Hearing

Watch the full hearing here.

Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Chairman of the PA House Appropriations Committee
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives