Cutting Avian Flu Money May Cost Us, Cutler Says
1/14/2016
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) today shared his concern about the governor’s complete elimination of $2.0 million for avian flu and other animal disease outbreaks in the proposed state budget. The money would have protected the Commonwealth’s $13 billion poultry industry in the event of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

As part of his total $6.8 billion in cuts, Gov. Tom Wolf slashed the avian influenza funding on Dec. 29 from the $30.3 billion budget that the House passed on Dec. 8. Also targeted by the governor’s line-item veto were $400 million in education funding; important health programs, such as cancer research and trauma centers; and personnel support for the state’s correctional institutions. Wolf also zeroed out funding to address HPAI that was included in the June 30 budget.

“With a blue pen and one quick flick of the wrist, $2.0 million and the security that accompanies it disappeared,” Cutler said. “Without that money, I question if the Commonwealth will be equipped to handle the many facets of the crisis that an avian influenza outbreak would cause.”

Cutler detailed his concerns about Wolf’s elimination of funding to research and potentially respond to HPAI in a letter to the governor. He indicated the importance of maintaining a state of preparedness, especially when the virus could be economically devastating.

The Commonwealth’s poultry industry generates more than 53,000 jobs that pay more than $3.2 billion in wages. An outbreak would be financially crippling to many hard-working Pennsylvania families.
“With more egg-laying hens than any other county in the United States, Lancaster is a poultry epicenter,” Cutler said. “While every budget conversation must include hard decisions, we must not be irresponsible. Choosing not to allocate any funds that will offset the struggle felt by our farmers and their customers in the event of an outbreak demonstrates poor leadership and short-sightedness.”

The poultry industry is not presently compensated for birds that die prior to an indemnity inventory check, down time of production facilities and losses to associated industries.
“On Tuesday night, I spoke to Sec. of Agriculture Russell Redding at the Farm Show, and he assured me that an outbreak would be addressed,” Cutler shared. “I appreciate his update, but I am still concerned. Without any money appropriated, we need to be realistic. How do we really know that the money is there? What plans are in place?”

For more information about avian influenza, visit the Department of Agriculture website and click on the “avian influenza” banner. 

Representative Bryan Cutler
100th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206
aevans@pahousegop.com
RepCutler.com / Facebook.com/RepBryanCutler
Twitter.com/RepBryanCutler
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