USDA Sandy Easement Apps Due April 18

USDA will accept applications for easements until April 18, 2014 from landowners who want to enroll floodplains impacted by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. If approved, the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will purchase the easements on eligible lands and restore the area to natural conditions.

In addition to being hit by Sandy, the land must have been damaged by flooding at least twice in the past ten years or once in the last calendar year. Also possibly eligible is land impacted by a dam breach or where the purchase would contribute to the restoration of flood storage or flow, provide for erosion control, or improve the practical management of the floodplain easement.

Click here for details and link to application forms. So far, awards have gone to NY ($7.5 million), CT ($7.5 million), and NJ ($4.1 million).

Regulatory Update for March 2014

Every year, each state cabinet agency is required to post proposed regulations in the PA Bulletin. This year, PDA has eleven. PA Preferred Program rules are expected to be final this month; Pesticide Testing June 2014; Clean and Green April 2014; Agricultural Conservation –Easement Purchase July 2014; Soil & Plant December 2014; Fertilizer December 2014; Pet Rules & Regulations April 2014; Commercial Feed Rules April 2014; Domestic Animal Rules December 2014; Weights & Measures rules were supposed to have been issued September 2013. Details and contact persons for each proposed rule are at http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol44/44-5/255.html.

Three Key Opportunities to Provide Input

  • First is March 17 at PDA. It is a listening session and features Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials to explain the agency’s thinking on the preventative controls for animal feed and a forum to discuss the Rule and its impact on businesses. Details: March 17 at 12:30 p.m. in Room 309, 2301 North Cameron Street in Harrisburg. RSVPs go to 717-787-3418, jabiery@pa.gov You may view the proposed animal feed rule at www.fda.gov by searching “FSMA proposed rules”. Last year, both PSCFO and PDA submitted comments criticizing the FDA Rule’s regulatory burden on farmers.
  • Second event is March 21, the Secretary’s quarterly conference call with PSCFO Council members. This allows PSCFO members to better understand PDA programs, projects, and priorities. It also provides an opportunity to communicate with top policy officials. Details: March 21 at 1:00 p.m. Call 1-855-750-1027 and use PIN number: 073088.
  • The third is the PSCFO Council meeting March 31 at the State Capitol where you will be able to interact with both legislators and PDA officials. If you have not yet RSVPd, please do so.

Crop Insurance Deadline is March 15, 2014

Pennsylvania agriculture producers seeking risk management protection for crops need to sign up for Crop Insurance by March 15.

Insurable spring crops include corn, grain sorghum, green peas, oats, potatoes, soybeans, spring barley, spring forage seedlings, tobacco, fresh market sweet corn and tomatoes, and beans, sweet corn and tomatoes for processing.

Additional crops might be insured through written agreement. Coarse grain crops like corn, grain sorghum, and soybeans that are planted into established small grain, grass or legumes are insurable if the cover crop is destroyed before the grain crop emerges.

Acreage with a cover crop used for haying and grazing is eligible for prevent-planting payments as long as the use of the cover crop did not prevent the acreage from being planted.

Details: 717-705-9511 or a Crop Insurance agent (Crop Insurance Agents Association of PA 717-346-1063)

General Assembly Returns

After spending a month with appropriations hearings, the General Assembly is back in session. Matters to note:

  • On March 10 the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee amended Senate Bill 1181 (Vogel-R-Beaver) to transfer $4.2 million from the Race Horse Development Fund to the State Racing Fund to provide resources to the PA Racing Commission to perform its regulatory responsibilities.
  • House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee Chair John Maher (R-Washington/Allegheny) distributed sponsorship memos to House members regarding a resolution to congratulate Cooperative Extension Service on its 100th anniversary and a second resolution recognizing April 1 as Farm Bureau Day. Status: No resolution numbers yet
  • A House Professional Licensure Committee hearing on licensing of professional soil scientists (House Bill 997 sponsored by Rep. Scott Petri-R-Bucks) has been set for May 7.
  • On February 4, the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee reported out Senate Bill 1149 (Brubaker-R-Lancaster) relating to the application of fertilizer on turf areas (lawns, athletic fields and golf courses). Two other bills reported out by the committee February 4 were: SB 1188 (Vogel-R-Beaver) amending the Race Horse Industry Reform Act and SB 1107 (Alloway-R-Franklin) stating that if a kennel license is revoked, no new kennel licenses will be issued to a person who is a member of the same family nor to any person residing at the address of the current (revoked) licensee.
  • House Bill 1440 (Boback-R-Luzerne) is still on hold in the Senate. It would exempt high tunnel buildings from the Uniform Construction Code.

Affordable Care Act Questions?

Having a hard time keeping up with changes in health insurance? The Kaiser Family
Foundation (www.kff.org) is an information resource on the Affordable Care Act. Also,
the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) has an insurance agent locator
if you seek to enroll in the exchange (www.nahu.org). The best advice of course is to
talk with your present insurance agent first