FARMLAND PROTECTION BILL SIGNED INTO LAW
On June 24, Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 2468 into law as Act 45 of 2018. This legislation restricts school districts and townships from seizing preserved farmland without justifying (no other available options) the acquisition before the county’s Orphan’s Court. HB 2468 addresses two separate school district actions in Cumberland and Montgomery Counties. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Warren Kampf, Marcy Toepel, and Kate Harper, all Montgomery County Republicans.
AGRI-TOURISM BILLS MOVE
Sponsored by Senator Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), bills limiting liability for farmers engaged in agri-tourism or agri-entertainment are continuing their movement in the PA General Assembly. Senate Bill 819 which defines agri-tourism passed the Senate June 18 by a 48-0 vote and was referred to the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee June 20. Companion Senate Bill 820 which provides limited liability immunity was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is on the Senate’s calendar.
HOUSE ADOPTS PENNVEST AUDIT RESOLUTION
On June 22, the PA House adopted House Resolution 948 calling upon State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to audit records of the PA Infrastructure Investment Authority, also known as PENNVEST, as they relate to nonpoint source program projects. According to prime sponsor Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), “many questions have been raised about transactions in which PENNVEST financed the purchase of 60,000 acres of private forest land in north central and northwestern PA.”
SENATE APPROVES NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT BILL
The Senate voted 49-0 on June 20 for Senate Bill 1171 (Brooks-R-Mercer/Crawford/Erie/Warren) to create the Farm Animal Advisory Board as a replacement for the Nutrient Management Advisory Board so as to provide greater input by animal farmers in the regulatory process concerning nutrient compliance rules.
SELECTED LEGISLATIVE ITEMS
- Approved by the Senate 48-0 on June 18 were two members of the PA Milk Marketing Board, Robert Barley and Carol Hardbarger. Barley was also appointed to USDA’s National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board by Secretary Sonny Perdue on June 19.
- Signed into law as Act 43 of 2018 by Governor Wolf on June 22 was House Bill 2477 (Watson-R-Bucks) furthering research in medical marijuana.
- Adopted by the PA House was House Resolution 971 proclaiming “Pollinator Week” in PA (Matzie D-Allegheny/Beaver). Adopted by the Senate was Senate Resolution 403 (Aument-R-Lancaster) declaring June as “Dairy Month” in PA.
DAIRY RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY SENATE
Another piece of legislation sponsored by Senator Aument was adopted by the PA Senate June 18. Senate Resolution 382 calls upon the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to prevent labeling products billing themselves as “milk” from using that term unless they are true dairy. This would include products such as soy, almond, and most recently peas from marketing with the term “milk” when they are not dairy products.
The second resolution adopted June 18 is Senate Resolution 384 sponsored by Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Minority Chair, Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. SR 384 directs the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to “identify and examine the statutes, best practices and proposed measures of other States to provide assistance to dairy producers during these economic times. The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee will also identify the number and types of specialty dairy products, such as lactose free milk, that are sold in the Commonwealth by out of state dairy producers and examine how milk produced in the Commonwealth can be utilized to meet the increased demand for this specialty dairy products market.” (Source: Sen. Schwank’s sponsorship memo)
AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION REPORT RELEASED
The Wolf Administration released an agriculture workforce development educational program report in June as a result of collaboration between the PA Departments of Agriculture and Education. Details: http://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Documents/Agriculture%20Education%20Report.pdf
- July 6, 2018 is the deadline for the Department of Environmental Protection to receive online applications for private companies “repowering” trucks and other equipment. The PA Clean Diesel Grant Program received part of the national $118 million Federal settlement with Volkswagon. Details: Samantha Harmon at DEP, 717-787-9495; www.dep.pa.gov/driveforward
- July 20, 2018 is the date by which farmers should file actual acreage reports for Crop Insurance. Another Crop Insurance date to remember is July 31st, the enrollment deadline for forage seeding protection. Details: Jordan Stasyszyn at PDA, 717-787-6901
- October 12, 2018 is the deadline for corn producers, grain handling facilities, or ethanol production facilities to enter into the Settlement Agreement with Syngenta over lawsuits alleging that marketing a GMO seed disrupted U.S. corn market prices. Details and a scam warning: www.cornseedsettlement.com; 833-567-2676.