AGOne Newsletter October 25, 2018

Dear Reader:

On Wednesday October 17, the PA General Assembly ended its legislative work for the 2017-18 session.  This term for legislators continues until November 30 and the House and Senate will return one day in November to elect new leaders for the new 2019-20 session.  Now the focus is on the election less than two weeks away.  When voting, ask yourself who has a farming background?  Who understands issues that rural PA faces? Re the voting itself, please do. The alternative is that someone may get elected who does not share your views on Broadband expansion, help for the Dairy industry, farmland preservation, etc.  Sincerely, Vince Phillips

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SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR

  • House Bill 1346 sponsored by Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong/Indiana/Butler) was signed into law as Act 78 of 2018.  It bans drone flying over restricted areas (correctional institutions) and where there is an intentional invasion of privacy.

WITH THE GOVERNOR

  • House Bill 544 (Moul-R-Adams) limits liability for property owners who permit recreational use of property where no admission fee is charged.
  • Senate Bill 1171 (Brooks-R-Mercer/Crawford/Warren/Erie) seeks to make regulatory oversight of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) easier for farmers by allowing for active consultation on rule-making with the Farm Animal Advisory Board.  Two members must have active CAFO permits. 
  • House Bill 2157 (Grove-R-York) codifies classification of instructional vocational technical programs and directs the Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence to issue guidelines under which a student may apply credit towards completion of an agriculture education program.
  • House Bill 1216 (Farry-R-Bucks) permits rescues of dogs and cats from closed cars in hot conditions.  It also establishes what amounts to an animal’s Bill of Rights (although the bill does not use that phrase).  A person commits an offense if he/she does not provide for basic needs of food and water, clean and sanitary shelter and protection from the weather, and necessary veterinary care.

SENATE ADOPTS AG RESOLUTIONS

Senate Resolution 418 sponsored by Senator Michele Brooks (R-Crawford/Mercer/Warren/Erie) urges the U.S. Congress and USDA to include milk in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.  Senate Resolution 421 sponsored by Senator Sharif Street (D-Phila.) urges the U.S. Congress to remove commercial industrial hemp from the Schedule 1 Controlled Substance list. 

ALMOST TO THE FINISH LINE

Several bills simply ran out of time before seeing final action by the General Assembly.  Next year, they can be re-introduced although they will likely have different bill numbers.

  • Sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), Senate Bill 1237 would have established the Rural Health Redesign Center, a public-private partnership to help rural hospitals upgrade care and address solvency issues.  It made it past the Senate and ended up in the House Health Committee.
  • House Bill 1550 (Klunk-R-York) would have allowed for voluntary relinquishment of a preserved farmland’s additional residence provision.  It passed the House and made it as far as the Senate voting calendar before the session ended.
  • House Resolution 429 would have established a special legislative task force on delivery of high-speed Broadband for rural areas and would have had the Joint State Government Commission create an advisory committee to conduct a study of delivery of high-speed Broadband in underserved areas.  It was part of a four bill bipartisan Broadband package sponsored by Representatives Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington).  It reached the House calendar but was not voted on.

PDA ANNOUNCES FY 2018-19 FAIR FUNDING

On October 20, the PA Department of Agriculture announced its annual plan for awarding grants under the PA Agricultural Fair Act. for agricultural fairs, statewide Ag organizations which contribute to the development of agriculture and agribusiness, and to 4-H and FFA.  Applications for Fair Reimbursements from statewide Organizations, and FFA/4-H reimbursements for FY 2017-18 are due to PDA by November 15, 2018.   

https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Business_Industry/pafairfund/Pages/default.aspx

NASS NEWS

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported on the response rate by farmers for the 2017 Census of Agriculture.  Pennsylvania was ranked 8th nationally with a 75.15 percent response rate.  The national response rate was 71.5 percent.  In all, more than 67,000 questionnaires were mailed to Pennsylvanians.  In another development, NASS announced that it is collecting data from vegetable growers from October 25 to December 20, 2018, with results reported in the Annual Vegetable Release February 12, 2019.  The research will obtain final acreage production and value of sales for fresh and processed vegetables.  Details: King Whetstone 717-787-3904; king.whetstone@usda.gov.

REGULATORY UPDATE

The PA Department of Agriculture issued a new organizational chart October 13 in the PA Bulletin, https://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol48/48-41/1588.html, as did the PA Game Commission https://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol48/48-41/1589.html.

CORRECTION:  The last issue of AG ONE Newsletter contained an error spotted by Kerry Golden, Executive Director, House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.  Accurately stated, Act 77 of 2018 (House Bill 1917) dealing with humane society police DOES NOT subject humane societies to the Right To Know Law.  Please accept an apology if the error caused confusion. 

REST IN PEACE… Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich (D-Lackawanna) died from complications relating to recent heart surgery.  He was a member of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.

AG ONE Newsletter October 10, 2018

Dear Reader:

Under what conditions should farmers apply biosolids or should they at all is the main topic to be discussed at the PA State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) November 19 meeting at PDA.   Studies have found biosolid application to be beneficial but opponents say that the treated waste (aka sewage sludge) is not treated sufficiently and poses an environmental health hazard.  Add to that pushback from some communities and legislators who believe that municipalities should have a veto power. Right to Farm (ACRE) also enters the fray, making this a very interesting and stimulating meeting.  There will also be program updates from the PA Department of Agriculture and political updates following the November election.  Sincerely, Vince Phillips

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OCTOBER IS CRUNCH TIME

The PA House and the Senate are finishing work for the 2017-18 legislative session.  Thus far, neither House nor Senate has expressed a desire to reconvene for a ‘lame-duck’ session after the election although a day is scheduled in November for clean-up.  Taking up much of the session will be farewell speeches by retiring members of the General Assembly.

NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT BILL MAY RUN OUT OF TIME

An unusual 12-8 partisan vote was taken October 1 in the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee on reporting out an amended Senate Bill 1171 (Brooks).  .  Since the bill was amended in the House, there may simply not be enough time for the House to pass it and the Senate to concur with House amendments given that next week is the last week for legislative action.

HUMANE SOCIETY POLICE BILL IS LAW

Signed into law by Governor Wolf on October 2 is Act 77 of 2018 (House Bill 1917 sponsored by Rep. Frank Ryan-R-Lebanon).  It increases initial training hours and mandates training in proper procedures when issuing citations.  There must be training on PA’s animal cruelty laws, “animal husbandry practices constituting normal agricultural operations, practices accepted in the agricultural industry in the raising, keeping and production of agricultural animals,” and “characteristics of agricultural animals likely evidencing care that is in violation of the cruelty to animals laws.”   Following is a link to the new law.

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2017&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=1917&pn=2815

ACTION ITEMS

  • House Bill 1346 sponsored by Rep. Jeff Pyle (R-Armstrong/Indiana/Butler) was presented to the Governor October 2.  It bans drone flying over restricted areas (correctional institutions) and where there is an intentional invasion of privacy.
  • Senate Resolution 457 sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) recognizing the Women of the Grange was adopted by the Senate on October 3.
  • Sponsored by Senator Michele Brooks-R- Mercer/Crawford/Warren/Erie), Senate Resolution 418 urges the U.S. Congress and USDA to include milk in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.  It was reported out by the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee October 2.  Also reported out by the committee was Senate Resolution 421 sponsored by Senator Sharif Street (D-Phila.) urging the U.S. Congress to remove commercial industrial hemp from the Schedule 1 Controlled Substance list.
  • Sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), Senate Bill 1237 establishes the Rural Health Redesign Center, a public-private partnership to help rural hospitals upgrade care and address solvency issues.  It will be funded by a Federal $25 million grant.  It passed the Senate on October 3.

PUC BEGINS PROCESS TO REGULATE BROADBAND POLE ATTACHMENTS

On September 29, 2018, the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) initiated a process to remove Federal Communications Commission (FCC) jurisdiction over pole attachments used to expand Broadband.  The PUC seeks to have ‘reverse pre-emption’ authority to have more streamlined pole attachments in Pennsylvania.  The rationale follows:

The Commission believes that asserting state jurisdiction over pole attachments at this time will assist policymakers in their efforts to expand access to both wireline and wireless broadband services for all Commonwealth residents, businesses, schools, hospitals—particularly in rural areas of the Commonwealth.

The Notice of Rulemaking states that there will be no fiscal impact on PA State Government. Interested parties have until October 29 to comment.  Written comments go to Secretary, Public Utility Commission, PO Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105.  Email contacts are Shaun A. Sparks at shsparks@pa.gov and Colin W. Scott at colinscott@pa.gov.

REGULATORY UPDATES

  • The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) approved two PA Department of Agriculture regulations concerning PDA Regulation #2-185, Vegetable Marketing and Research Program and PDA Regulation #2-187 regarding Weighmasters.
  • The PA Department of Agriculture issued a Notice spelling out General Quarantine rules throughout PA for animals afflicted with rabies.  It went into effect October 6, 2018.  https://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol48/48-40/1558.html

RESOLUTIONS…

House Resolution 1074 sponsored by Rep. Robert Matzie (D-Allegheny) was adopted by the House September 25 proclaiming October as “Wines, Wineries, and Grapes Month”.

On September 24, the House adopted House Resolution 1010 sponsored by Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, (D-York) designating August 2018 as “Pennsylvania Produce Month”.