Avian Influenza Fears Prompt Reaction

An August 19 joint meeting of the House and Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees will take place at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center to have legislators receive an update on state efforts to anticipate and confront the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

On the Administration side, PDA published a General Quarantine Notice “Virus Control for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Poultry and Poultry Products at Competitions, Shows, Fairs, and Exhibitions” in the July 11 PA Bulletin. The Notice builds on previous PDA prohibition of poultry and egg products into PA from states with reported cases of HPAI unless the products are found to be free from contamination.
(Refer to AG ONE 2015.8 at www.pscfo.com for a summary of the Interstate Quarantine Order.)

The new Notice specifies that no poultry products including eggs or any goods or items made up of poultry products such as feathers, shall be exhibited at the 2016 Farm Show or any of the many shows, fairs, or exhibitions governed by the PA Agricultural Fair Act. It also builds on a previous PDA Notice banning live poultry from the shows, etc.

WC Budget Bill Signed

Despite being at budgetary loggerheads with the General Assembly, Governor Wolf did sign nine specific budget bills, one of which directly affects Workers’ Compensation insurance. Senate Bill 813 (Hughes-D- Phila.) or Act 9A of 2015 makes appropriations from the Workers’ Compensation Administration Fund ($71.966 million) to fund continued administration of the Workers’ Compensation Act by the Department of Labor & Industry. Three million dollars went to the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund. SB 813 also allocates $194,000 to fund the Office of Small Business Advocate housed within the Department of Community & Economic Development.

Another bill, Senate Bill 655, would have re-authorized work of the State Workers Insurance Fund (SWIF), the Workers Compensation insurer of last resort. That was vetoed by the Governor because it contained other funding areas that the Governor opposed.

Legislative Updates

  • Adopted by the Senate unanimously July 14 was Senate Resolution 169 (Vogel-R-Beaver) recognizing 2015 as “International Year of Soils” in Pennsylvania. SR 169 stresses the importance of soil to the Commonwealth both economically and in terms of food supply and recognizes the work of professional soil scientists.
  • Senate Resolution 55 (Hutchinson-R-Venango) creating a Forestry Task Force was reported out by the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee July 14.
  • Rep. Martin Causer (R-McKean) introduced legislation to establish a Small Stream Maintenance Permit to be issued by county conservation districts at no cost in order to facilitate removing obstructions and flood-related hazards from streams. House Bill 1433 was referred to the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee July 6.

Crop Insurance News

PDA issued the following on Crop Insurance. Details: www.cropinsurancepa.com, 717/787-6901

  • Enrollment for the Dairy Margin Protection Program began July 1 and ends September 30.
    The program was established as part of the Farm Bill.
  • PDA will conduct an Early Riser on Crop Insurance August 19 at AG Progress Days.
  • The 15th Annual PA Crop Insurance Conference will be held in Harrisburg August 27.