Cheese-Making Growing In Pennsylvania

Cheese Sue MillerCHESTER SPRINGS – Sue Miller loves hanging out in her cheese cave.

“Sometimes I get attached to certain wheels of cheese,” said Miller, co-owner of Birchrun Hills Farm, a dairy farm in Chester Springs. “And my husband says, ‘You know, it’s meant to be sold.’ ”

She knows.

Her love of cheese grew out of necessity. About nine years ago, declining milk prices and rising costs had Miller and her husband, Ken, worried they might lose the small farm they hoped one day to pass on to their two sons.

Like other small dairy operators across the country, the first-generation farmers decided they needed to innovate to survive.

Read more in the Philadelphia Inquirer …

Wolf Inauguration Takes Shape

HARRISBURG – Incoming Governor Tom Wolf and incoming Lt. Governor Michael Stack will be inaugurated January 20.  Ticket information: http://wolfinauguration.com/sections/events

10:30 a.m.                   Swearing-in of Lt. Governor Michael J. Stack III, PA Senate Chamber

10 – 12:00 noon           Swearing-in of Governor Tom Wolf, State Capitol, East Wing (ticket)

1- 4:30 p.m.                 PA Arts & Children’s Program, PA State Museum in Harrisburg

3 – 4:00 p.m.                Open House, Governor’s Mansion, 2035 North Front, Harrisburg

8 – 11:00 p.m.              “Let’s Get Started” Inaugural Celebration, Hershey Lodge (ticket)

PSCFO Meets with Wolf Policy Chief Hanger

John-HangerHERSHEY – On December 15, several members of the PSCFO Board met privately with John Hanger, former DEP Secretary under former Governor Rendell and now Secretary of Policy and Planning for incoming Governor Tom Wolf.  Mr. Hanger said that he welcomes policy input from the PA State Council of Farm Organizations to the Wolf Administration.  According to PSCFO President Brian Snyder, this may be the first time PSCFO has met with an official at this level of an incoming administration.  Among the topics discussed were:

  • Need for adequate General Government Operations funds for the PA Department of Agriculture
  • Preservation of certain line items in PDA’s budget such as the Centers of Excellence, agricultural research, PA Preferred, and others
  • Importance of consistency in immigration rules. While a federal issue, state legislative initiatives could create an even more confusing set of rules for agricultural producers

Wolf Transistion Team includes PSCFO Members

Wolf transition 180x180HARRISBURG – The Wolf Transition Team for PDA includes six individuals from PSCFO member organizations: Chairman Russell Redding, Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Studies, Delaware Valley University.; Dr. MeeCee Baker (Versant Strategies); PSCFO Board member Hannah Smith-Brubaker (PA Farmers Union); Russell Biggica (PA Rural Electric Association); Joel Rotz (PA Farm Bureau); and Robert Maiden (PA Association of Conservation Districts).

2015 OSHA Regulatory Change

osha-logoWASHINGTON, D.C. – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has new workplace accident reporting requirements effective January 1. All work-related fatalities must be reported to OSHA within eight hours (current rule) and all in-patient formal admission hospitalizations, amputations and loss of eyes must be reported within 24 hours.  NOTE: Act 169 of 2014 (House Bill 1907 sponsored by Rep. Stan Saylor-R-York) requires hospitals to be clearer regarding whether the patient is in the hospital for observation versus being formally admitted.  Employers normally exempt from routinely keeping OSHA records are required to comply with this Rule.  Notifying OSHA may be done utilizing a regional office, calling 1-800-321-6742, or reporting the accident on-line at www.osha.gov/report_online. Link: https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014/

Session Days Announced for 2015

The Pennsylvania General Assembly posted its schedule for the first half of 2015.

Month             Senate Session Days                          ______House Session Days

January            6, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28                                        same

February          2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 25                                            same plus 9, 10, 11

March              2, 3, 4                                                              same plus 9, 10, 30, 31

April                13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22                                      same plus April 1

May                 4, 5, 6,11,12,13                                               same

June                 1,2,3,8,9,10,15,16,17,18,22,23,24,25,26,29,30  same

Preview of 2015 Legislation

Pa-capitol-300x250 LegislationHARRISBURG – A month before the start of the new session, there were 60 sponsorship memos from 22 Representatives while 29 Senators distributed 107 sponsorship memos for new legislation.  Sometimes, the legislation is a commemoration of an historic event but mostly, these were substantive proposals dealing with criminal, tax, and State Budget issues.  Several dealt with tort reform issues such as:

  • Statute of Repose (time when a lawsuit can be filed) by Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin)
  • Right to file discrimination claims in court from Rep. Mark Cohen (D-Phila.)
  • False Claims Act (penalties for those who make false claims who have government funding sponsored by Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington)

Others are repealing Pennsylvania’s Inheritance Tax from newly-elected Senator Michelle Brooks (R-Mercer) and making use of a hand-held mobile device while driving an offense with fines starting at $50, sponsored by Senators John Wozniak (D-Cambria) and Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin)

Majority and Minority Chairs of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee (Senators Vogel and Schwank) distributed a sponsorship memo re PA’s Farmland Preservation and Forest Land Assessment Act (Clean and Green) program.  It would allow a landowner to lease an area to a third party for a rural enterprise as currently defined for Farmland Preservation purposes.  Senator Vogel also issued a sponsorship memo for his re-introduction of last session’s Senate Bill 944 to authorize a competitive bid verified nutrient procurement program to reduce Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TDML) compliance costs.