PSCFO Meeting Postponed until October 27

PSCFO meetingHARRISBURG – The PA State Council of Farm Organizations meeting for the fall has been re-set to October 27 with a Board meeting at 11:00 a.m. (NOTE: This is a change.) and the Council meeting at its regular time of 1:00 p.m.  Location is the PA Department of Agriculture, 2301 Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110.

Topics to be discussed by the Council include:

  • Invasive Species (Feral Hogs)
  • EPA proposed definition of Water Rule
  • Update on Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Rule.

Additionally, since for all purposes, the legislative session will be over October 15, expect interesting conversation on what the 2013-14 session of the General Assembly meant for PA Agriculture.  Please RSVP to 717/232-9665 or to Manager@PSCFO.com by October 17 regarding your plans to attend.

Crop Insurance Initiatives from USDA

USDA logo crop insuranceWASHINGTON, D.C. – Crop Insurance Initiatives from USDA were advanced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a September 25 media release.  Two new programs, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are meant to provide farmers with an alternative to direct payment programs eliminated by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Both of these new programs offer protection when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices and/or revenues.  USDA also announced a farmer resource to help calculate what each program could mean to them.  (www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-pic)

September 29 marks the first date when farmers may visit their local Farm Service Agency office if they wish to update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres — the first step before choosing which program is best suited to meeting their specific risk management needs.  NOTE:  Although not referenced in the USDA release, farmers should also be contacting their Crop Insurance agent on a regular basis to keep aware of developments in the new ARC and PLC programs. Agent locator: www.rma.usda.gov.

Hearing on GMO’s Set

GMO'sHARRISBURG – On October 6, the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee will convene a Harrisburg informational meeting on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO’s) labeling. List of witnesses was not available at press time although the committee memo cites “nationally recognized scientists” as witnesses. Details: Mary Geiger 717-783-1522.

Regulatory Update

  • Regulatory UpdateThe Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) meeting of the Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee will meet October 22 rather than the originally scheduled date of December 21.  Location will be Northampton Community College in Bethlehem.  Details: Susan Foster 717/787-7019, sfoster@pa.gov.
  • The State Conservation Commission is holding two October meetings: October 14 is the Commercial Manure Hauler & Broker Orientation and October 15 is the Broker 2 Nutrient Balance Sheet Training.  Details: 717/772-5218

PSCFO Members Line up on Property Tax Bill

Property taxHARRISBURG – Some PSCFO member organizations have taken positions on a fiercely contested proposal to revamp the school property tax system and replace those revenues with increases in Personal Income Tax and elimination of many areas now exempted from the state sales tax.  A link to a summary of Senate Bill 76 (Argall-R-Schuylkill) follows:  http://www.senatorargall.com/propertytaxindependenceact/  SB 76 advocates were heartened by a September 16 vote by the Senate Finance Committee which advances the bill much further than ever before.

A major supporter of SB 76 is PSCFO member PA Farm Bureau.  Three PSCFO members — PA Bankers Association, PA Food Merchants Association, and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania — oppose SB 76.  Regardless of SB 76’s outcome this fall, expect the issue of property tax relief to again emerge as an issue in the General Assembly next year.

PLEASE NOTE that PSCFO has taken no official position on this bill or the position it represents.

Reduce Agricultural Deaths and Injuries

Agriculture deaths and injuriesMECHANICSBURG – The American Trauma Society, Pa. Division, issued agricultural specific safeguards designed to reduce agricultural deaths and injuries.  According to the group, 37 PA farm and agriculture-related deaths were reported in 2013 with 50% involving tractors, skid steers or forklifts. Some precautions: Be properly educated and educate everyone in the farm family on operating farm equipment; conducting farm equipment safety inspections; not wearing loose clothing while operating equipment; using seat belts; not carrying passengers on equipment; and using protective gear when operating equipment and (especially) when using chemicals.  Details: Rachel Bryson rbryson@atspa.org . This list was released as part of National Farm Safety and Health Week September 21-27, 2014.

September 22, 2014 Meetings Cancelled

The PSCFO Board and Delegates Meeting scheduled for September 22, 2014 have been cancelled and are tentatively rescheduled for October 27. More information on the October 27 meetings will be posted on the PSCFO website.

Below is an email sent to PSCFO members by PSCFO President Brian Snyder:

Dear members of the PA State Council of Farm Organizations,

Our next quarterly meeting, which had been scheduled and announced for Monday, September 22  at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, has been cancelled and tentatively rescheduled for Monday, October 27 in the same location.  Our association manager, Vince Phillips, has experienced some significant health concerns as a result of a fall over the summer, and is in fact just returning home from the hospital today.  He will (hopefully) return to work in early October, and will be able to assist with preparations for a meeting on the 27th.  Please join me in praying for his complete and speedy recovery!

We also have a meeting scheduled for November 17, which will likely be rescheduled later.  But please hold this date for now, as a back-up to the October 27 meeting, should that earlier meeting be cancelled for any reason.  I’m sure we would all prefer to have a meeting before the upcoming election, and may even reflect on that event as part of the program.  But given the uncertainties of Vince’s health, we’ll make the best decision possible when the time comes.

Thanks all, and I hope you are enjoying these last few days of summer.

Brian