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.

USDA Extends Comment Period for Ag Conservation Easement

USDA_logoThe USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that the deadline for public comment on the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) interim rule has been extended to May 28, 2015.  Comments should go to Public Comments, Docket Number NRCS-2014-0011, Regulatory & Policy Team, USDA NRCS, 5601 Sunnyside Building, 1-1112D, Beltsville, MD 20705 or electronically via regulations.gov.

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/

Two Ag-Championed Bills Reach Governor’s Desk

high tunnel billsHigh Tunnels: House Bill 1440 (Boback-R-Luzerne) enacted by the General Assembly. This states that these agricultural buildings are not governed by the Uniform Construction Code. PSCFO and a number of PSCFO Council member organizations such as PA Landscape & Nursery Association and the PA Farm Bureau lobbied for HB 1440’s passage. Status: Sent to Governor Corbett October 14.

Vehicle Code Change: Also sent to the Governor October 14 was House Bill 2092 (M. Keller-R-Perry) amends the PA vehicle code to make PA requirements match those of federal rules regarding “covered farm vehicles” where drivers do not need a commercial driver’s license to operate “covered farm vehicles” anywhere within the state or operated interstate within 150 miles from the farm. The Fiscal Note clarifies that the legislation’s 150 miles are “air miles”, meaning that the actual range is 172.6 miles.

Riparian Buffer Bill at Governor’s Desk

Riparian BufferHARRISBURG – House Bill 1565 (Hahn-R-Northampton) gives developers the ability to ignore a 150 foot forested (riparian) barrier requirement between development and certain waterways under the PA Clean Streams Law. Voting was not along party lines. The September 22 House vote of 119-79 saw 22 Republicans voting against and 31 Democrats voting for HB 1565. The Senate vote on October 14 was 27-22 with eight Republicans voting no and eight Democrats voting yes.

According to her sponsorship memo, Rep. Hahn said that the goal was “to clarify that riparian buffer and riparian forest buffers shall not be required but may be used as a best choice among best management practices or design standards to minimize pollution from erosion and sedimentation.” She said that current law “amounts to a taking of property without legislative oversight or approval”.

Supported by builders and business interests, this legislation was strongly opposed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, PA Landscape & Nursery Association, PA Environmental Council, PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, former DEP Secretary David Hess and others.

WOTUS Comment Deadline Extended

pa streamThe US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/Army Corps of Engineers proposed definition of “Waters of the US” or WOTUS has a new deadline for public comment, November 14.  The PA Department of Agriculture suggested that the proposed rule be withdrawn.

PSCFO did not comment due to the diversity of views within the organization.

There will be an informational panel on the subject at the October 27 Council meeting to contrast some of the positions.  Those seeking to comment should utilize

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880-0001

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
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