HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — In Pennsylvania, one in 10 jobs pertain to agriculture, a huge economic driver in the Commonwealth. But now, the industry faces challenges.

On Tuesday, farmers from across Pennsylvania were in Harrisburg to share their needs with lawmakers, and the governor also promised he would support them.

Beef may have been on the lunch menu for farmers and lawmakers, but chickens were at the top of the discussion menu. Specifically, the avian flu has claimed five million birds throughout the state.

Governor Josh Shapiro promised $25 million in 2024, in addition to the $25 million this year, for farmers to recoup losses from the avian flu. Shapiro has clearly prioritized agriculture.

“When our farmers succeed, Pennsylvania succeeds. And we need to think about it that way,” Shapiro said.

Russel Redding, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, has worked for both Republican and Democrat governors and says Shapiro is sending a message to farmers early in his administration.

“We’ve never had a governor in his budget address, say high path avian influenza. Right,” said Redding. “It’s a priority. We need you here. We want you here. We’re going to work with you. I think it sets the stage for the next four years.”

Dave Graybill, a Juniata County farmer, is asking for fewer regulations and quicker permitting.

“I farm about 400 acres. Why would it take longer to get a permit than it should? It didn’t make your food any safer. If another state can do it faster than we can in Pennsylvania, we should be able to do that too,” Graybill said.

Shapiro also made a budget pitch; He wants to spend more to bolster lagging rural broadband, rural schools, and rural healthcare.

“That needs to be reversed for us to have good, healthy, safe communities where farmers can thrive,” Shapiro added.

The governor knows most farms are in red counties, and most farmers likely vote Republican. But the path to partisanship may be healthy, food-filled bellies.

“We’re ready to put aside any momentary political differences to come together to support our farmers and grow our economy,” Shapiro said.

Even Republican lawmakers representing those red districts have noticed.

“Ag is huge in the eighth district of Blair County. So for him to be here tells me that he cares a lot about not just the people in the metropolitan areas, but the people of Blair County,” said Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair County).

Shapiro said the avian flu hit Pennsylvania earlier and harder this year because of warmer weather and earlier bird migrations.