Katherine Hetherington, PLNA Government Relations Director, said the issue has been simmering in the state for many years and that it has come to a head with the closure of a private nursery “because of the pressures of the market and the pervasive advertising campaigns of the nurseries at Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), promoting their below market prices to the general public.”
“These nurseries are putting out environmental remediation, private timber, and wildlife habitat trees at prices that are 1/5th the wholesale price and have effectively dominated the market, keeping PA nurseries out of that sector to a large degree,” Hetherington said.
According to Hetherington, issues arose when the PLNA helped to consolidate the state nurseries from 30 to the two under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“These nurseries are putting out environmental remediation, private timber, and wildlife habitat trees at prices that are 1/5th the wholesale price and have effectively dominated the market, keeping Pennsylvania’s private nurseries out of that sector to a large degree,” she said. “Our member nurseries are also interested in seeing these state-owned nurseries closed because the state funded nurseries consistently lose around $1 million per year and that is not including the overhead costs of salaries, land management, etc. They are directly competing with private businesses and our state is interested in divesting currently government-run entities that can be better run/produced by private businesses.”
Hetherington said the state-run nurseries are producing more than four million trees per year, many of which are given out for free. The PLNA is advocating that these nurseries be phased out over the next few years and that the DCNR and the PGC coordinate efforts with private businesses to plan out the products they will need for the future, “ensuring that trees continue to be planted, conservation and environmental needs are still met, private businesses are supported, and the government is more fiscally responsible in these lean times.”