DEPARTMENT ISSUES AVIAN INFLUENZA PRECAUTIONARY
According to Secretary Russell Redding as quoted in a PA Department of Agriculture March 6 press release, “After a year reprieve, high-path avian influenza is back in the lower 48 states and that should be a cause for concern. The best defense against HPAI is a good offense, beginning with an effective biosecurity plan that has been prepared, planned and practiced by individual facilities. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture also urges flock owners to develop a site-specific HPAI flock plan.”
Per the Department, there is $2 million dedicated to this purpose in addition to the $1.1 million already invested in preparedness during FY 2015-16. The Department’s State Veterinarian, Dr. David Wolfgang, explained that biosecurity plans should focus on cleanliness and isolating domestic birds from those in the wild. This also means keeping livestock, domestic animals, rodents and other pests away. Agricultural producers have also been made aware that that the virus can be carried on shoes and boots as well as tools and vehicle tires, so flock owners should limit visitors and deliveries to only those who have cleaned and sanitized appropriately. Those who see signs of infection are urged to call 717-772-2852. PDA’s website has a section dealing with HPAI and biosecurity measures, www.agriculture.pa.gov
TRUMP BUDGET CUTS FEDERAL RURAL DOLLARS
The Federal Budget proposed by President Donald Trump increases spending for Defense/Homeland Security and includes major cuts at the State Department/ foreign aid programs as well as cutting resources for the Environmental Protection Agency and USDA. Discretionary spending for USDA saw a $4.7 billion or 20.7% reduction. This was third largest percentage cut after the EPA (-31.4%) and the State Department (-28.7%). This Budget includes discretionary spending which makes up about a quarter of the total Federal Budget. In May, President Trump is expected to lay out his ideas for mandated programs such as Crop Insurance and other farm programs. Some of the cuts enumerated in this proposal include cuts to USDA county –level staff, NASS funding, elimination of USDA’s rural wastewater and water loan and grant program (consolidating into an EPA program). The Budget also seeks $350 million for agriculture research funded through the Agriculture & Food Research initiative, half of what was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA nutrition programs (WIC and SNAP) would see a $200 million drop. The elimination of Chesapeake Bay funding prompted Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell to say that the proposed Federal Budget would “abandon farmers.”
BILLS TO WATCH
- House Bill 587 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) and Senate Bill 487 (Vogel-R-Beaver) mandate creation of a DEP online tracking system to see where DEP permit applications are in the approval process.
- House Bill 790 (Pashinski-D-Luzerne) replaces the Noxious Weed Control Act of 1982 with an updated Controlled Plant & Noxious Weed Act.
- House Bill 187 (Sonney-R-Erie) allows preserved farms to grant right of way for wind energy generation.
- House Bill 503 (Charlton-R-Delaware) proposes Growing Greener III to provide a potential $315 million for conservation, farmland preservation, etc. Senators Killion, Alloway and McIlhinney plan similar legislation in the Senate.
- House Bill 557 (Everett-R-Lycoming) seeks to protect property owners’ rights when it comes to natural gas royalty payments. Similar legislation (Senate Bills 138 and 139) from Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) is seeing Senate action.
- House Bill 251 (Kauffman-R-Franklin provides for a Farmland Preservation license plate.
- Senate Bill 246 (Leach-D-Chester/Delaware) prohibits use of certain antibiotics in farm animal feed
AND, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, The PA House adopted House Resolution 67 (M. Keller-R-Perry) recognizing the week of February 18-25, 2017 as “FFA Week”.
PDA Deputy Secretary Cheryl Cook was awarded the National Farmers’ Union’s highest honor, The NFU Meritorious Service Award at the group’s annual convention in San Diego.
- Monsanto offers $10,000 and $25,000 grants to school districts nominated by farmers. If awarded, grant(s) will help a school district develop or strengthen a Math/Science program. Nominations of school districts must be submitted by April 1, 2017. Monsanto will contact a nominated school district to help them develop a specific proposal – with a quick turn-around of April 15. Details: www.GrowRuralEducation.com .
- Bayer Bee Care Leadership Award recognizes partnerships between beekeepers and growers, golf courses, researchers, or other stakeholders to protect pollinators. Award is $5,000. A $1,000 award recognizes a young beekeeper under 18 years of age for school or community work in building apiaries and researching ways to improve honey bee health. (May 17 deadline) Contact: https://www.cropscience.bayer.us/contact
- PA Septage Management Association offers a $1,000 scholarship to an employee, child or grandchild of those involved in onlot systems installation or maintenance. Deadline for applications is May 15, 2017. (NOTE: PSMA member companies only). Details: www.psma.net
GENERAL FARM ORGANIZATION SCHOLARSHIPS
- PA Friends of Agriculture Foundation (PA Farm Bureau) for Penn State, Delaware Valley, or University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine pfb.com
- PA State Grange pagrange.org for Penn State. There is also a separate scholarship for those enrolled in an interpreter for the deaf program. NOTE: Deadline is May 1, 2017.
- National Farmers Union www.nfu.org/education/scholarships It does not specify a particular college.