AG ONE Newsletter February 9, 2020

On February 4, Governor Tom Wolf presented his proposal for the State Budget beginning July 1, 2020.  This special issue of AG ONE Newsletter will describe Governor Wolf’s budgetary vision for many agricultural budget items.  PA Department of Agriculture hearings are scheduled for February 26 at 10:00 a.m. (House Appropriations Committee) and March 2 at 10:00 a.m. (Senate Appropriations Committee). The Senate Appropriations Committee is holding a hearing on the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine on March 2 at 1:00 p.m. and Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Extension at 3:00 p.m. the same day.  Check PCN for viewing schedule.

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Budget Item   (state funds)                                        Current FY                Proposed

Agriculture Dept. General Gov’t Ops.                   33.731 million             33.502 million

    (NOTE: Staff complement increases by one in the next fiscal year –for conservation.)

Biosecurity

Ag Preparedness Response Fund                            4.0 million                   same

    (NOTE:  Includes Spotted Lanternfly)

Conservation/Infrastructure/Preservation

Dirt, Gravel & Low Volume Roads                        35.0 million                 same

Conservation District Fund                                     8.422 million               7.585 million

Ag Conservation Easement Purchase                     40.0 million                 same

Chesapeake Bay Ag. Source Abatement Fund (DEP)   0                          3.974 million

Community Conservation Grants (DCNR)           6.120 million               6.0 million

Education/Research

Penn State Extension & Ag Research                     54.960 million             same

U of Pitt Rural Education Outreach                       3.346 million               same

PA Fairs

Grants (Race Horse Development Trust Fund)         4.0 million                   same

Workforce Investment                                              4.5 million                   4.5 million

PA Farm Show General Operations                       12.827 million             12.548 million

Farm Products Show Fund                                      5.0 million                   same

    (Transfer from Horse Race Development Fund)

     NOTE:  Other income for Farm Show in FY 19-20 came from parking (2.385 million), rental                  (3.631 million), concessions (1.248 million) and 420,000 from exhibits). 

Nutrition

Farmers Market Food Coupons                              2.079 million               same

PA Ag Surplus System                                              1.5 million                   2.5 million

Veterinary & Animal Health

Animal Health & Diagnostic Comm.                      7.3700 million             5.370 million

UPenn School of Veterinary Medicine                    31.660 million             same

UPenn Center Infectious Diseases                           295,000                       same

Equine Toxicology & Research Lab                       13.0 million                 5.896 million

PA Vet Lab                                                                5.309 million               same

    (Above two items funded by Race Horse Development Trust Fund)

OTHER LINE ITEMS

Centers for Ag Excellence                                        2.8 million                   same

Center for Rural PA (General Assembly)             1.128 million               same

PA Milk Marketing Board                                       2.956 million               2.840 million

PA Preferred                                                             3.205 million               same

Youth Shows                                                             169,000                       same

Nutrient Management Fund                                    7.217 million               6.329 million

Volunteer Company Loan Fund                             25.0 million                 20.0 million

 

Resource: PDA begins on Page 341; Special Funds begin on Page 780.

https://www.budget.pa.gov/PublicationsAndReports/CommonwealthBudget/Documents/2020-21%20Proposed%20Budget/2020-21%20Executive%20Budget%20Book%20-%20Web%20Version.pdf

ELIMINATED IN FY 2020-21 State Budget Proposal

Agriculture Promotion, Education, Exports          553,000                       0

Agriculture Research (not Penn State)                     2.187 million               0

Food Marketing & Research                                   494,000                       0

Hardwood Promotion                                               474,000                       0

Livestock Show                                                         215,000                       0

Livestock & Consumer Protection                          1.0 million                   0

Open Dairy Show                                                     215,000                       0

Rural Leadership Training  (DCED)                      100,000                       0

Horse Racing Purse Account                                   162.714 million           0

Racing Programs                                                      32.543 million             0

Horse Drug Testing                                                  10.662 million             0

NOTE: Horse Racing Development Fund monies diverted to create a new state scholarship fund.

TAX CREDIT PROGRAMS

Resource Enhancement& Protection (REAP)       13.0 million                 same

Mobile Telecom Broadband Investment                5.0 million                   same

Tax Credits for Beginning Farmers                        0                                  5.0 million

AG ONE Newsletter January 1, 2020

PSCFO ANNUAL MEETING IS FEBRUARY 4

The PA State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) is meeting on Tuesday February 4 at the State Capitol.  This is also the day when Governor Tom Wolf presents a proposed budget for the Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2020.  The date of our meeting underscores the importance of Agriculture receiving necessary state resources.  PSCFO members attending the Council meeting will hear presentations on public policy issues, receive updates from institutions of higher learning and maybe, we will get a peek at some of the proposals that build on last year’s successful passage of the PA Farm Bill.

Here are times and locations for February 4.

10:00 – 12:00 noon    Board of Directors    Room 4 East Wing (conference room adjacent to Rep. Mike Tobash’ office)

1:00 – 3:30 p.m.         Council meeting in Room 31-B near the cafeteria and below the Main Rotunda)

4:30 -6:30 p.m.           Cornucopia: A Taste of Pennsylvania Legislative Reception held in the Main Rotunda on the west side of the Capitol Complex. 

DAIRY HELP BILLS PASS HOUSE

The House voted December 17, 2019 for two dairy aid bills sponsored by Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester).  House Bill 1223 establishes regional Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones (KOZs) to provide tax breaks for those investing in milk processing facilities.  House Bill 1224 authorizes the PA Milk Marketing Board (PMMB) to work with the Revenue Department to more accurately identify retail milk sales.  By law, PA has a minimum retail price which includes monies which should go to PA dairy farmers.  It is hard to track the money; hence the need for HB 1224.  Rep. Lawrence spoke to PSCFO at its November meeting.  HB 1223 and HB 1224 were referred to the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee on December 26.

TELEMEDICINE BILL HITS ABORTION SNAG

Legislation setting up standards for telemedicine has stalled despite an initial Senate vote of 47-1.  At issue was language added in the House which was interpreted as restricting access to abortion services.  Contrasted to the Senate vote, the House split 111-77 on the bill. Senate Bill 857 (Vogel-R-Beaver) is especially important to rural areas with smaller numbers of health care providers and longer distances to go when receiving medical care.  Telemedicine is seen as a way to provide better access to treatment.  The bill includes a requirement that health insurance companies reimburse health care providers for both in-person and telemedicine services without discriminating against telemedicine claims payments.  In addition, SB 857 specifically prohibits health insurers from disallowing payment solely because a health care service is provided by telemedicine.

It was referred to the Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committee. Following is a link to the latest version of the bill.  Click on Printers Number 1388.

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2019&sInd=0&body=S&type=B&bn=0857

SELECTED FARM SHOW ITEMS  A full Farm Show schedule is available at https://www.farmshow.pa.gov/pafarmshow/plan/schedule/Pages/default.aspx.   There are several events that involve legislative policy affecting rural Pennsylvanians:

  • Tuesday 1:00 p.m. Erie Room:  Senate Majority Policy Committee hearing on implementation of the PA Farm Bill.
  • Wednesday 9:00 a.m. in the Allegheny Room:  House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee hearing on issues of concern to several agriculture groups including PA Farm Bureau, PA State Grange, PA Assn. for Sustainable Agriculture, PA Farmers Union, and PennAg Industries Association.
  • Wednesday 9:00 a.m. in the Erie Room: Informational briefing on the Chesapeake Bay held by the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.
  • Thursday 9:00 a.m. in the Monongahela Room:  A panel discussion on rural Broadband access convened by PA State Grange.

PURPLE PAINT LAW

Sponsored by Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York), House Bill 1772 was signed into law by Governor Wolf as Act 103 of 2019 on November 27.  This law gives property owners the option of using purple paint as an alternative to traditional no trespassing signs.  Paint strips may be applied to trees or fence posts. Strips must be at least 8” long and 1” wide between three and five feet off the ground.  The new law takes effect January 27, 2020.

PENNSYLVANIA AGRICULTURAL WOMEN HONORED in 2019

  • Dr. MeeCee Baker (Versant Strategies) was honored as an outstanding woman in the profession of Agricultural Education during the National FFA’s convention.
  • Carol Ann Gregg of Mercer County was presented with PA Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Women in Agriculture Award at PFB’s annual convention.

DON’T FORGET DEDICATION TO AGRICULTURE NOMINATIONS

The PSCFO Dedication to Agriculture Award deadline for applications is January 15, 2020 with the presentation made at the February 4 Cornucopia reception in the Main Rotunda.  Details: 717-232-9665 or xenobun@aol.com.

AG ONE Newsletter November 12, 2019

HOUSE PASSES MODIFIED SUNDAY HUNTING

Th PA House of Representatives passed Sunday hunting in a 144-54 vote on October 30.  Senate Bill 147 (Laughlin-R-Eroe0 now authorizes three Sundays for hunting, one with firearms, one with archery, and one to be determined by the PA Game Commission.  An earlier House committee amendment was a provision requiring written permission from the property owner before hunting could take place.  On the House floor, four additional amendments were added to: make the bill effective in 90 days instead of immediately (NOTE:  Sunday hunting will NOT take place this year.); authorize use of local law enforcement to assist with trespassing complaints if needed; allowing an unarmed  person to enter posted property to retrieve a hunting dog; and a technical amendment. The bill now goes back to the Senate seeking concurrence with the House amendments.  The Senate returns November 18.  Following is a link to the roll call vote:

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/RC/Public/rc_view_action2.cfm?sess_yr=2019&sess_ind=0&rc_body=H&rc_nbr=815 .

HOUSE AG COMMITTEE MOVES DAIRY BILLS

On October 23, the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee reported out two dairy aid bills sponsored by Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester).  House Bill 1223 establishes regional Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones (KOZs) to provide tax breaks for those investing in new milk processing facilities (or expanding existing facilities).  House Bill 1224 authorizes the PA Milk Marketing Board (PMMB) to work with the Revenue Department to more accurately identify retail milk sales.  By law, PA has a minimum retail price which includes monies which should go to PA dairy farmers.  It is hard to track the money; hence the need for HB 1224.

At the committee meeting, House Bill 1755 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) was also reported out.  This would mandate that the State Conservation Commission submit a number of required reports to the General Assembly.  House Bill 918 (Schmitt-R-Blair) was also reported from committee.  It repeals an 1857 law which established state funding for the ‘Farmers’ High School’, a precursor to the Pennsylvania State university.

SENATE PASSES TELEMEDICINE BILL

By a 47-1 vote on October 30, the PA Senate passed Senate Bill 857 (Vogel-R-Beaver) setting up standards for use of telemedicine.  Especially important to rural areas with smaller numbers of health care providers and longer distances to go when receiving medical care, telemedicine is seen as a way to provide better access to treatment.  The bill includes a requirement that health insurance companies will reimburse health care providers for both in-person and telemedicine services in accord without discriminating against telemedicine claims payments.  In addition, SB 857 specifically prohibits health insurers from disallowing payment solely because a health care service is provided by telemedicine.  It was referred to the House Insurance Committee where it joins House Bill 15 (Readshaw-D-Allegheny) and House Bill 872 (Day-R-Lehigh/Berks).

Previously, House Resolution 193 (McNeill-D-Northampton) was adopted by the House on June 4 directing the Joint State Government Commission to do a study on the shortage of mental health care providers and what telemedicine might do to reduce the lack of access to these services.

GRANT DEADLINES

  • Due by November19: Agriculture & Youth Organization Grant Program was created by the PA Farm Bill to provide grants to eligible agriculture and youth organizations for projects such as educational programs, work force development programs, eligible seminars and field trips, agricultural safety programs, capital projects, equipment purchases and special projects as approved.  Details: Morgan Sheffield 717-787-3568

http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/Display/pabull?file=/secure/pabulletin/data/vol49/49-43/1582.html.

  • December 2 is the closing date for applications for the State-level Specialty Crop Grant Program made possible by the PA Farm Bill enacted over the summer.  In addition to Federally-recognized specialty crops, the PA grant program also recognizes hemp, hops, hardwood, honey, and barley/rye/wheat for distilling, brewing and malting.  Details:  Ashley Fehr 717-803-1452, or www.esa.dced.state.pa.us/login.aspx.

DATES & REMINDERS

  • November 15 is the deadline for the 2019 Soybean Yield Contest to receive harvest yield reports.  Forms are available from the PA Soybean Board at www.pasoybean.org.
  • November 20 the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee has scheduled an informational meeting on activities of county conservation districts.
  • Dairy Margin Coverage enrollment ends December 13, 2019.
  • December 2019 has Extension Soybean Production Workshops scheduled; December 10, Fulton County; December 12, Luzerne County; December 17, Juniata County; and December 19 in Lycoming County.  Details: 877-345-0691, www.extension.psu.edu/soybean-production.

FARMER SAFETY ADVISORY

Emergency Email & Wireless Critical News newsletter reports that John Deere issued a safety recall for compact utility tractors sold between October 2016 through September 2019 (recall Number 20-706).  Owners can get their tractors fixed free of charge at a John Deere dealer.     (Model 4044R Serial Numbers 400284 -401619; Model 4052R, Serial Numbers 400381-403424; and Model 4066R, Serial Numbers 401588-407220)

AG ONE Newsletter August 20, 2019

Dear Reader:  Maybe this should be re-titled “The Calendar Issue” of the AG ONE Newsletter.

~  Please note September 16, 2019 as the meeting date for the PA State Council of Farm Organizations with a Board meeting at 10:00 a.m. and a Council meeting at 1:00 p.m.  It will be held in room 309 in the PA Department of Agriculture Building at 2201 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110 – Details to follow.

~  Please spread the word to those producers with whom you have contact.  PSCFO and USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) with the active support of the PA Department of Agriculture are sponsoring a seminar on Crop Insurance and Risk Management on Thursday September 12, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon.  The event is being hosted by the MidAtlantic Farm Credit office at  15 Eby Chiquel Road in Mt. Joy, PA 17552 (Lancaster County).  Details:  717-728-1217, xenobun@aol.com or LHERMAN77@comcast.net

 Sincerely, Vince Phillips

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THREE BROADBAND HEARINGS SLATED FOR SEPTEMBER

The Senate Communications & Technology Committee is holding three hearings in September to discuss improving access to high-speed Broadband Internet in the Commonwealth.

  • September 3 Monroe County Safety Center in Stroudsburg, PA
  • September 5 Penn State Fayette Eberly Campus in Lemont Furnace, PA
  • September 23 at the State Capitol in Harrisburg

Achieving universal access to Broadband is a major priority of the PA State Council of Farm Organizations.  Details:  Chloe Mandara, Esq., Office of Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), Majority Chair, Senate Communications & Technology Committee.  717-787-7085; cmandara@pasen.gov .

 TWO MAJOR DAIRY EVENTS

The Center for Dairy Excellence, PA Department of Agriculture and dairy groups are spearheading two significant dairy events in PA this September.  First is the Dairy Financial & Risk Management Conference September 11, 2019.  Held at the Central Penn College in Summerdale, PA, bankers, credit managers, and financial consultants will receive briefings on the status of the Dairy Industry given market dynamics and will receive guidance on how to help dairy farmers develop business plans and implement best practices management.  In addition, Dairy Farmers of America’s Risk Management team will discuss risk management strategies for dairy farmers.    Registration deadline is September 6.  Details:  www.veterfordairyexcellence.org/dairy-financial-conference .

The second event is the All-American Dairy Show September 14-18 at the PA Farm Show Complex.  The All-American Dairy Show runs concurrently with the PA Holstein Fall Championship Show and the Eastern National Holstein Show.  A highlight this year is the 2019 Pennsylvania On-Farm Dairy Innovation Forum which will showcase opportunities for on-farm dairy processing, marketing, the PA Dairy Investment Program as well as Dairy Check-Off Resources.  The Forum will take place September 17.  Details: Melissa Anderson, 717-346-0849, manderson@pa.gov  or www.allamerican.pa.gov .

PDA CROP INSURANCE CONFERENCE ON AUGUST 28

The 19th Crop Insurance Conference takes place at the Farm Show Complex, Maclay Street entrance, on August 28.  Some program highlights:

  • Federal Crop Insurance Update (USDA Risk Management Agency)
  • Farm Services Agency Update
  • PA Farm Bill and Managing Risks
  • Risk Management Checklist

In addition, the PA Farm Bureau will brief attendees on Federal legislation and the Center for Dairy Excellence will discuss dairy profitability in these challenging times.  USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Survey will present results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture.  Details:  Laura England laenglish@pa.gov

RESOURCE OPPORTUNITY

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Small Business Advantage Grant is taking applications.  Qualifiers are small businesses (100 or fewer employees) undertaking energy efficiency, pollution prevention or natural resource conservation projects.  These are matching grants of up to $7,000 and eligible projects must save the business at least $500 per year and at least 25% in annual energy consumption or pollution-related expenses.  Details:  DEP Small Business Ombudsman Office; 717-772-5160.

DATES & REMINDERS

  • August 28, 2019 is the submission deadline for nominations to the PA Beef Council Board of Directors.
  • September 1, 2019 is the date by which farmers seeking to enter the 2019 PA Soybean Contest must register.  Last year’s winner had a yield of 88.75 bushels per acre. Details: https://pasoybean.org/forms/growers/.
  • On September 4, 2019, the PA Milk Marketing Board is convening a hearing for all milk marketing areas in Harrisburg.  Testimony is being received on Over-Order Premium.  Location is in room 110, PA Department of Agriculture.  Details: tmoyer@pa.gov .
  • The Center for Dairy Excellence is seeking nominations for a seat on its Board of Directors.  Nominees must be dairy producers from southeast Pennsylvania and nominations must be received by October 1, 2019.  Details: Jayne Sebright jsebright@centerfordairyexcellence.org .

OFFICE NEWS:  EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 1st, the new office address for the PA State Council of Farm Organizations will be 3610 Kent Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050.  Although the telephone number will remain 717-232-9665, it is strongly recommended that you use 717-728-1217 for the first two weeks of the month so as to make sure that the technology transfer is complete.

AG ONE Newsletter July 8, 2019

Dear Reader:

This issue of AG ONE Newsletter is longer than the usual two pages.  This comes from the fact that this summer has seen an incredible number of areas of interest to Agriculture take center stage.  Personally, I think this level of activity on Agriculture is unprecedented.

 Sincerely, Vince Phillips

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AGRICULTURE BUDGET RESULTS

In the FY 2019-20 State Budget, there are many outcomes about which the Agriculture Community can be pleased.  The law is Act 1A of 2019 (House Bill 790).  Highlights:

  • PA Department of Agriculture General Government Operations was increased from $32.299 million to $33.731 million.
  • Items deleted in the original State Budget proposal were restored: Hardwoods marketing, Livestock and Consumer Health Protection, Livestock Show, Open Dairy Show, etc.
  • There was a nominal increase in Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Research and Extension from $53.882 million to $54.960 million. The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine received a slight increase from $31.039 to $31.660 million.
  • Remaining constant were funding for the Fairs, the University of Pennsylvania Center for Infectious Diseases, Food Market Coupons, Center for Rural PA, etc.

Of course, there are many more line items affecting Agriculture.  They are found in different places in HB 790.  Following is a link to HB 790.  PA Department of Agriculture line items begin on page 205.  DEP budget line items begin on page 237.

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=PDF&sessYr=2019&sessInd=0&billBody=H&billTyp=B&billNbr=0790&pn=2215

If you wish to see a summary comparing monies for line items in the 2018-19 Fiscal Year versus the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019, please refer to the PA Office of the Budget.

https://www.budget.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx

THERE WERE SOME DISAPPOINTMENTS

Certainly nothing serious considering the overall success of Agriculture in the State Budget, but there were things worth noting.  First, the rapid-response contingency fund to meet food threats such as Avian Influenza received $4 million instead of the requested $5 million.  PA Agriculture Surplus System (PASS) received $1.5 million. PA State Council of Farm Organizations adopted a policy in May stating that the amount should be $3 million for PASS.)

Given the fact that agricultural program funding has been in a desert in recent years, these outcomes are not something causing great stress.

WATCH THE OTHER BUDGET BILLS

In addition to the spending bill (HB 790), there are other accompanying bills, the Fiscal Code Bill (Senate Bill 712), the Tax Code Bill (House Bill 262), and the Administrative Code Bill (House Bill 1461).  These bills specify from where the money will come and how it will be spent.

Some items of interest to the Agricultural Community:

  • The Tax Code Bill increases Resource Enhancement and Protection Farm Conservation Tax Credit (REAP) by $3 million. REAP also raised tax credits to $250,000 in any seven-year period.  Tax credits can go up to 80 percent for high priority best management practices as determined by the State Conservation Commission.
  • The Fiscal Code Bill has a provision providing $5 million to the Commonwealth Funding Authority for organic transition, processing and marketing grants. Senate Bill 623 (Schwank-R-Berks) sets the criteria for this funding to work.  It is in the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.
  • The Fiscal Code Bill includes a $20 million payment for Growing Greener 2 Bond’s debt service from the General Fund. The remainder of perhaps $6 million would come from the Environment Stewardship Fund.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS DISTRESSED WITH BUDGET

The environmental community opposed Governor Wolf’s original proposal to take monies from the Environmental Stewardship Fund to fund normal government operations and environmental protection programs. Ultimately, their advocacy was unsuccessful with about $10 million leaving the Environmental Stewardship Fund for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) in HB 790.

They were even unhappier with the Fiscal Code Bill (Senate Bill 712).   SB 712 gives the Secretary of the Budget authority to transfer up to $45 million from any other fund under the Governor’s authority to the operating budgets of DEP and DCNR.  The Fiscal Code Bill also includes a permanent authorization to transfer monies from the Recycling Fund for operating costs of DEP and DCNR.  Additionally, the Marcellus Legacy Fund will no longer transfer $20 million a year to the Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee will cease to exist July 1, 2021.

The Growing Greener Coalition said that the Environmental Stewardship Fund transfers could have planted 32,000 acres of stream buffers.

Thanks to Dave Hess and the Environmental Digest for contributing information vital to this issue of AG ONE Newsletter.

WOLF SIGNS MUTIPLE AG BILLS INTO LAW

Governor Tom Wolf signed a number of bills into law which affect the Agricultural Community.

  • Act 28 (Senate Bill 338) increases allowable width for farm equipment to be 18 feet, up from the current 16 feet.
  • Act 33 (House Bill 370) provides flexibility for protected farms regarding an additional residence.
  • Act 34 (House Bill 1514) provides for the Farm to School program.
  • Act 35 (House Bill 1516) creates a rapid response fund for threats to agriculture such as Avian Flu.
  • Act 36 (House Bill 1520) sets forth criteria on how PA Preferred is to operate and also creates a program designed to help veterans to become farmers.
  • Act 37 (House Bill 1526) re-establishes the low interest program known as Agriculture Linked Investment Program.
  • Act 38 (House Bill 1590) creates the Dairy Investment Program.
  • Act 39 (Senate Bill 634) establishes the Conservation Excellence Grant Program.
  • Act 40 (Senate Bill 661) creates the Commonwealth Specialty Crop Program to supplement USDA’s grants by including such commodities as hemp or hops. It also establishes a grant program for urban agriculture, and restores a youth grant program.
  • Act 65 (Senate Bill 478) provides a personal income tax credit for landowners who sell or lease land or equipment to beginning farmers.
  • Act 66 (Senate Bill 585) establishes the PA Dairy Future Commission.

WOLF VETOES DAIRY BILL

The aura of good feelings surrounding these new laws was somewhat diminished by the July 2 veto of House Bill 915 that would have allowed milk haulers to be exempted from Interstate highway closures when a weather emergency is called.  House Bill 915 (Causer-R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) received a veto-proof House majority during its legislative journey (136-61).  The Senate vote was two short of a veto override (32-18).

In his veto message, the Governor said that HB 915 conflicts with the need for public safety, In my view, such an exemption runs counter to the safety of the driving public.”  House Majority Chair of the House Agriculture Marty Causer was quick to respond, “I’m not sure what the Governor fails to understand about the problems his travel bans have caused for our dairy industry, which is already struggling to stay afloat. You can spend all the money you want on things like developing the market for organics and increasing processing opportunities, but if you can’t get the milk off the farm, what’s the point?”

OTHER LEGISLATIVE NOTES:

  • Sunday hunting legislation, Senate Bill 147 (Laughlin-R-Erie), passed the Senate on June 26 by a vote of 36-14.  It has gone to the House where battle lines will again form.  The original language was watered down in the Senate by reducing the number of Sunday hunting days to three.  Separately, House Bill 102 (Maloney-R-Berks) passed the House back in May.  It authorizes after school hunting/gun safety education for students taught by PA Game Commission certified instructors.
  • House Resolution 222 (Lawrence-R-Chester) was adopted by the House on June 26.  It asks the Federal Food & Drug Administration to enforce their existing rule regarding the mislabeling of non-dairy products calling themselves “milk” or “dairy”.

BROADBAND ACTIVITY

On July 26, the Senate adopted two Resolutions sponsored by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York).  They are Senate Resolution 47 which establishes a legislative task force committee on Broadband.  Senate Resolution 48 directs the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee to review non-rural telecommunications companies to see if they are meeting their statutory requirements in providing Broadband to Pennsylvanians. Broadband access is a major priority of the PA State Council of Farm Organizations.

AG One Newsletter May 7, 2019

NOW THERE ARE TWO OMNIBUS AG PLANS

In addition to the PA Farm Bill advanced by the Wolf Administration, Senate Republicans are pushing a package of seven “Farming First” bills designed to help PA Agriculture.

  • AGRI-TOURISM: Senate Bill 583 (Aument-R-Lancaster) seeks to standardize what constitutes agri-tourism on preserved farms.  Status: Passed by the Senate May 7 by a 47-0 vote.
  • AGRI-TOURISM: Senate Bill 453 (Ward-R-Blair) provides for an exemption from the Universal Construction Code for buildings that host weddings, receptions and similar events.  Status:  Passed the the Senate 27-20 on May 7.  Its’ House counterpart, House Bill 1037 (Lawrence-R-Chester) was reported out by the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee 17-7 on May 7.
  • BEGINNING FARMERS: Senate Bill 478 (Vogel-R-Beaver) provides a Personal Income Tax credit to landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings, and equipment to beginning farmers.  Status:  The Senate voted for passage 47-0 on May 7.
  • DAIRY:  Senate Bill 585 (Corman-R-Centre) would establish the PA Dairy Future Commission to bring together stakeholders and state agencies to recommend solutions to problems faced by PA dairy farmers.  Status: Passed Senate 47-0 on May 7.
  • DAIRY:  Senate Bill 588 (Ward-R-Blair and Yaw-R-Lycoming) permits milk haulers to travel on highways during a declaration of emergency.  This is identical to House Bill 915 which is awaiting House action.  Status:  Passed 32-15 on May 7.
  • FARM SUCCESSION:  Senate Bill 145 (Yaw) gives farmers more discretion regarding construction and subdivision of residences on protected farmland.  Its’ purpose is to help with farm succession.  Status:  Reported out by Senate Appropriations Committee April 8 by a 22-0 vote.  Its’ counterpart is House-passed House Bill 370 (Klunk-R-York).
  • TRANSPORTATION: Senate Bill 338 (Langerholc-R-Cambria) would increase allowable width of farm equipment from the current 16 feet to 18 feet.  Status: Reported out unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee May 6.

HOUSE CTE PACKAGE IS IN SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE

  • The package of House-passed career & technical education bills have all been referred to the Senate Education Committee.  They are: House Bill 393 (Harkins-D-Erie) establishing an interagency (Agriculture, Education, Labor & Industry Departments) online career resource center; House Bill 394 (Mullery-D-Luzerne) directing the Departments of Education and Labor & Industry to set up a workforce development program clearinghouse; House Bill 297 (Mako-R-Northampton) directing the Department of Education to prepare materials outlining future workforce needs and earnings potentials; House Bill 334 (Grove-R-York) setting procedures for public schools to apply for a vocational classification code for a specified program of technical education.  It also authorizes the Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence, with approval by the Department of Education, to develop guidelines when a student may apply an academic course, program, or activity towards completion of an agricultural education program.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

  • House Bill 915 which allows milk hauling even when a state of emergency passed the House 136-61 on May 7.  Note: This is a veto-proof majority given PennDOT’s opposition to the bill.
  • House Bill 629 (Rapp-R-Warren) mandates health insurer coverage for extended antibiotic treatment of Lyme disease.  It passed the House and was referred to the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee on April 22.
  • May 5-11 has been recognized as Conservation District Week per House Resolution 249 (Causer-R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) which was adopted April 29 by the House.
  • Also adopted April 29 was House Resolution 252 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster) designating April 27 as “World Veterinary Day” in Pennsylvania.
  • Now in the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee is House Bill 441 (Sonney-R-Erie) allowing right-of-ways for wind power generating systems on protected farmland.

BROADBAND ACTIVITY

There is exciting news from the General Assembly regarding a PSCFO top priority – universal access to Broadband throughout rural PA.  The House Broadband Caucus reorganized for this legislative session.  Co-chairs are Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Fayette/Greene/Washington) and Rep. Rich Irvin (R-Mifflin/Huntingdon/Centre).  Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) announced that she will try to establish a joint House and Senate Broadband Caucus.

One of the Broadband bills, House Bill 305 (Snyder) directing the Commonwealth to prepare an inventory of state-owned structures that could be ‘piggy-backed’ with telecommunications equipment in a public-private partnership, was reported out unanimously by the State Government Committee on May 6.

COMING UP… The House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee will have a May 16 informational meeting on the forest products industryOn May 9, the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee will hold an informational meeting to discuss the Department of Environmental Protection permitting process…The Senate Appropriations Committee is considering four of the Senate Republicans’ “Farming First” package – SB 338, SB 478, SB 583, and SB 585.

AG One Newsletter April 2, 2019

PMMB TO HOLD HEARING ON PAYMENT TRANSPARENCY

On May 1 the PA Milk Marketing Board (PMMB) will convene a hearing in Harrisburg at the PA Dept. of Agriculture to examine how to make over-order premium payments by dairy cooperatives more transparent.  (Details: Doug Eberly 717-836-3115; deberly@pa.gov.)   This is in response to a petition by Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester/Lancaster).  The issue has been a long-standing concern for Rep. Lawrence who has introduced legislation in previous legislative sessions.  He is circulating a sponsorship memo which says in part,

Many farmers question how many, if any, of these Over-Order Premium dollars actually come back to the Pennsylvania Dairy Farmer.  Currently, the PMMB has no infrastructure to directly collect and distribute the milk premiums.  This legislation would give the PMMB the ability, but not the requirement, to coordinate the collection and distribution of milk premiums with the Department of Revenue, which has an existing infrastructure in place.  This proposal would significantly increase accountability and transparency on how this state-mandated money is collected and paid, and more importantly, would ensure that the funds actually get to dairy farmers.

PMMB HOUSE HEARING ON APRIL 17

The House Agriculture & Rural Affairs will receive testimony from the PA Milk Marketing Board on April 17 in Harrisburg.  The over-order premium issue will likely be brought up since Rep. Lawrence serves on this committee.

HOUSE COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER MILK HAULING EXEMPTION

The House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee will hold an informational meeting on House Bill 915 on April 10.  HB 915 allows for milk hauling even when a state of emergency has been declared.  Although recognizing safety concerns, the legislation points to fact that milk would have to be dumped if farmers cannot ship their milk off-farm, adding to financial losses to dairy farmers. It is sponsored by committee chair Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter).

SPOTTED LANTERNFLY UPDATES

  • In March, Dauphin County was added to the quarantine list for Spotted Lanternfly.
  • In March, Delaware is quarantining eleven zip codes in New Castle County.
  • On March 18, the House voted 194-0 to designate the ‘Tree of Heaven’ plant as a noxious weed since it is the favorite food of the Spotted Lanternfly. (House Bill 404 sponsored by Rep. John Lawrence.)

HOUSE ADOPTS AGRICULTURAL RESOLUTIONS

Adopted by the PA House in March were two resolutions regarding agriculture.  House Resolution 103 sponsored by Rep. Barbara Gleim (R-Cumberland) designated March 18-22 as ‘Pennsylvania Ag Literacy Week’ (March 18).  House Resolution 174 sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback (R-Lackawanna/Lycoming/Luzerne) recognizes the importance of 4-H. (March 27).

CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION TAKES CENTER STAGE

In March, the House passed a bipartisan group of bills promoting career and technical education, some of which specifically involve agriculture.

  • House Bill 393 (Harkins-D-Erie) establishes an interagency (Agriculture, Education, Labor & Industry Departments) online career resource center.
  • House Bill 297 (Mako-R-Northampton) directs the Department of Education to prepare materials outlining future workforce needs and earnings potentials.
  • House Bill 394 (Mullery-D-Luzerne) directs the Departments of Education and Labor & Industry to set up a workforce development program clearinghouse.  The PA Department of Agriculture is not formally included but PDA officials say they will certainly have a seat at the proverbial table.
  • House Bill 334 (Grove-R-York) sets procedures for public schools to apply for a vocational classification code for a specified program of technical education.  It also authorizes the Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence, with approval by the Department of Education, to develop guidelines when a student may apply an academic course, program, or activity towards completion of an agricultural education program.  HB 334 also requires updates every five years for science, technology, AND mathematics courses that can be applied as credits for completion of course, program, or activity offered by any vocational-technical school, technical institute, or vocational school or department.

In addition, adopted by the House March 20 was House Resolution 110 (Klunk-R-York) urging the U.S. Congress to amend the 529 College Savings Program to allow eligibility for purchase of tools and equipment.  Now, 529 money can be used for tuition, board, books, room/board, etc. but not for tools and equipment for those entering the trades.

 

In the Senate, Senate Bill 89 sponsored by Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Phila.) was reported out by the Senate Education Committee March 19 and re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee March 27. It replaces legislative references to the terms ‘vocational-technical’, ‘vocation’ and ‘vocational’ with the current phrasing ‘career and technical’ and renaming the State Board of Vocational Education as the State Board of Career and Technical Education (CTE).

 

COMING UP…

  • On April 9, the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee will conduct a public hearing to consider the re-nomination of Russell Redding as Secretary of the PA Department of Agriculture.

AG One Newsletter February 25, 2019

GOVERNOR WOLF PRESENTS THE PA FARM BILL

On February 14, the Wolf Administration presented a series of funding enhancements to various agriculture programs.  Dubbed ‘Pennsylvania’s Farm Bill’, these changes are expected to invest more than $24 million in PA Agriculture.  Components include:

  • Ag Business Development and Succession Planning: $2 million to assist farmers in developing a business plan and succession strategy; Realty Transfer Tax exemption for transfer of preserved farmland to a qualified beginning farmer.
  • Animal Sector: $5 million Dairy Investment Program for research, organic transition assistance, value-added processing, etc.; Center for Animal Excellence at $1 million to support the animal agriculture industry including potential establishment of hemp as an approved animal feed; $500,000 to help smaller meat processors by subsidizing Federal meat inspection costs and relevant equipment.
  • Business Climate: $2.5 million for the Conservation Excellence Grant Program; $500,000 to re-establish a low interest loan program to help farmers implement Best Management Practices; Expanding Resource Enhancement & Protection Tax Credits by $3 million; legislation to change transportation requirements; allowing for subdivision of preserved farms (Ag Security Act); and streamline co-op audit reporting requirements.
  • Workforce Development: $500,000 in grants to agricultural and rural youth organizations; $500,000 for PA Farm to School Grant Program.
  • Ag Disaster Response Infrastructure: $5 million for response to agricultural disasters such as Avian Influenza or Spotted Lanternfly or response to food-borne illnesses.
  • Market Expansion: $1.6 million for promotion of organic farming through PA Preferred Program; $1 million additional for PA Preferred; $500,000 for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program; $500,000 to develop and improve the agriculture infrastructure in urban areas.

ADMINISTRATION PRESENTS INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN (Including Broadband)

A second Wolf Administration proposal is the Restore Pennsylvania program which seeks to raise $4.5 billion through a bond issue to be repaid by taxing extraction of natural gas.  This money would help subsidize Broadband expansion to rural areas, assist municipalities with flood and storm water control projects and address such areas as town blight and brownfields clean-up.

The fine print contains a proviso that new Marcellus Gas landowner lease agreements would forbid energy companies from subtracting post-production costs from royalty payments or requiring the landowner to pay the severance tax.  Senate sponsors of legislation will be Senators John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) and Tom Killion (R-Delaware).

Link to the Governor’s announcement:  https://www.governor.pa.gov/governor-wolf-outlines-plan-restore-critical-pennsylvania-infrastructure/

WOTUS COMMENT DEADLINE EXTENDED

April 15, 2019 is the new deadline for persons wishing to comment on the Trump Administration’s proposed re-writing of the definition of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS).  The proposed changes define the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act in the Federal Register. When commenting, use Docket Number EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149.

The extension on the comment period came in part from a February 12 letter signed by 160 Democratic Members of Congress including four from PA:  Matt Cartwright, Brendan Boyle, Mike Doyle, and Mary Gay Scanlon.

Comments may be submitted electronically through http://www.regulations.gov, by email to OW-Docket@epa.gov or through the U.S. Postal Service to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center, Office of Water Docket, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460

REGULATORY UPDATES

  • On February 23, the PA Department of Agriculture published a notice to peach and nectarine producers that it is almost time to vote on the referendum which takes place every five years on whether or not the marketing campaign should continue. The referendum period extends from March 18 – April 1, 2019.  Those voting must have at least 500 trees.  Results will be released within 30 days after April 9.
  • PA Milk Marketing Board is convening hearings on March 6 and April 3, 2019 at PDA. Among other things, PMMB will receive comments on setting the over-order premium at $1.00 per hundredweight.  Questions: deberly@pa.gov

 

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT SEEN AS HOUSE PRIORITY

On February 19, House Education Committee Chairs Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Erie) and Rep. Jim Roebuck (D-Phila.) convened a press conference to present a bipartisan package of legislation designed to enhance workforce development in the Commonwealth.  These eight bills will be voted on by the Education Committee on March 11.  Please refer to www.legis.state.pa.us to look up sponsorship memos and bill text for House Bill 265, House Bill 297, House Bill 334, House Bill 393, House Bill 394, House Bill 395, House Bill 396 and House Bill 522. The following links you to the press release describing in brief each of the bills:  http://www.repsonney.com/NewsItem.aspx?NewsID=274906

 

UPCOMING HARRISBURG HEARINGS

  • February 27: PA Game Commission before the House Game & Fisheries Committee.  NOTE:  Sunday hunting topic will likely be raised.
  • March 19: Joint Legislative Conservation Committee will hold a hearing on Bike Tourism initiatives along PA Route 6.
  • The House and Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees will hold a joint hearing on the PA Farm Bill proposal on March 20.

AG ONE Newsletter February 11, 2019

Dear Reader:

On February 5, Governor Tom Wolf presented his proposal for the State Budget beginning July 1, 2019.  Although helpful to Agriculture with level or even increased funding in many areas, there were also cuts that the General Assembly will examine.  Now starts the Appropriations Committee hearings which can be seen on PA Cable Network.  The PA Department of Agriculture hearings are scheduled for March 5 at 10:00 a.m. (House Appropriations Committee) and March 6 at 1:00 p.m. (Senate Appropriations Committee).  Sincerely, Vince Phillips

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BUDGET

Shortly, expect to see a special edition of AG ONE Newsletter which focuses on the 2019-20 State Budget proposal advanced by Governor Wolf

PSCFO NEWS:  LEADERSHIP

The PA State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) comprised of 70 agricultural and commodity groups, selected leadership for 2019 at its Annual Meeting in Harrisburg February 5, 2019.  Elected officers are:

  • President Gregg Robertson who represents the PA Landscape & Nursery Association
  • Vice President:  Timothy Wentz, representing the Northeast Equipment Dealers’ Association
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Kurt Fuchs, representing MidAtlantic Farm Credit.

Jeff Nogan, representing PA Cattlemen, automatically becomes Immediate Past President and serves as a member of the PSCFO Executive Committee. In addition, chosen were three members of the Board of Directors.  They are:

  • Eugene Richard, representing Mushroom Farmers of PA
  • Rick Leese, representing the PA Farm Bureau
  • Judy Mohn, representing the PA Cooperative Potato Growers Association

PSCFO NEWS:  DEDICATION TO AGRICULTURE AWARD

The PA State Council of Farm Organizations presented the 2019 PSCFO Dedication to Agriculture Award to cattleman conservationist Jim Cowell, a long-time Farmer in Greene County.  Presenting the Award were PSCFO President Gregg Robertson, PA Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Fayette/Greene/Washington), Katrina Hanna, Chief of Staff for Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-Greene/Beaver/Washington), and PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding.  In addition to the PSCFO Dedication to Agriculture Award, Mr. Cowell received congratulatory Citations from the PA State Senate and from the PA House of Representatives. 

PSCFO Dedication to Agriculture Award criteria are based on one or more of the following:

  • Service with a significant economic or social impact on rural Pennsylvania
  • Service affecting PA Agriculture generally  or service making a vital difference in one part of PA Agriculture such as for a specific commodity
  • Unheralded accomplishment with limited public awareness
  • Public Service performed at the local, state, or national level providing a meaningful contribution/benefit to PA Agriculture
  • Service providing a greater awareness of agriculture’s importance to the general public

SUNDAY HUNTING LEGISLATION MOVES THROUGH SENATE COMMITTEE

The Senate Game & Fisheries Committee on February 4 reported out Senate Bill 147 sponsored by Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) to allow Sunday hunting.  The vote was not unanimous, 8 for and 3 against.  Opponents to the legislation include PA Farm Bureau and PA State Grange as well as groups which are concerned about possible injuries to non-hunter recreational users.  Supporting the legislation are the PA Game Commission, sportsman groups, and the National Rifle Association.  SB 147 was amended in committee to include an analysis by the PA Budget and Finance Committee on PA Game Commission fees, fines, penalties, costs, land purchases, etc.

LEGISLATION

  • On February 4, the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee reported out Senate Bill 145 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) amending the Agricultural Area Security Law to allow farmers of protected farmland to voluntarily relinquish their right to construct an additional residence.  This would allow them to minimize their property taxes.
  • Adopted by both House and Senate were Resolutions commending the work of the FFA (House Resolution 45 sponsored by Rep. Mark Keller (R-Perry) and Senate Resolution 21 sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver).  Each was adopted by their respective chamber February 4.
  • Adopted by the Senate was Senate Resolution 25 sponsored by Senator Don White (R-Indiana) proclaiming February as PA Mutual Insurance Companies Month.  This was Senator White’s last sponsored legislation before his retirement.  Many of the PA Mutual insurance companies were founded to meet farmers’ insurance needs.

POLITICS:  STATE

  • The Senate will shortly have three vacancies to be filled by special election.  First is the Washington/Allegheny County district held by former Senator Guy Reschenthaler who was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2018.  Others are Senator Richard Alloway (R-Franklin) and Senator Don White (R-Indiana) who close out their Senate careers February 28..
  • The House has two special elections scheduled for May 21, primary day.  They are to fill the seats of former Rep. Vanessa Brown (D-Phila.) who resigned and Sid Kavulich (D-Lackawanna), a member of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, who died shortly before the 2018 election.
  • Although vigorously denying accusations of sexual misconduct and suing the accuser, Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) relinquished his position as Minority Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee as a way to recuse himself from any relevant legislation.

COMING UP…The House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee will have an informational meeting February 20 to discuss agricultural issues with PDA Secretary Russell Redding.

AG ONE Newsletter December 2, 2018

Dear Reader:

Please mark February 5, 2019, on your calendar.  It will be the PA State Council of Farm Organizations Capitol Hill meeting and will coincide with Governor Tom Wolf’s Budget Address to the General Assembly.  There, he will present his Administration’s State Budget priorities.  Agriculture did pretty well in the current budget.  On February 5, we will know what funding  battles will be fought by the Agriculture Community.  Also, although program details are not locked in, we traditionally have the Secretary of Agriculture, Executive Directors of the House and Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees, and the Ag institutions — Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Delaware Valley University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. This will be followed by the heralded Cornucopia Legislative Reception in the Capitol’s Main Rotunda. .  Sincerely, Vince Phillips

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PSCFO INITIATES DEDICATION TO AGRICULTURE AWARD

The PA State Council of Farm Organizations has initiated the PSCFO Dedication to Agriculture Award to be presented to an individual February 5, 2019.  Nominations must be endorsed by a PSCFO member organization.  Nomination criteria for the award must be based on one or more of the following:

  • Service with a significant economic or social impact on rural Pennsylvania
  • Service generally affecting PA Agriculture
  • Service making a vital difference in one component of PA Agriculture such as for a specific commodity
  • Unheralded accomplishment with limited public awareness
  • Public Service performed at the local, state, or national level providing a meaningful contribution/benefit to agriculture
  • Service providing a greater awareness of agriculture’s importance to the general public

Nominees must be Pennsylvanians by birth or residence.  The nomination period runs from December 10, 2018 to January 15, 2019.  Details: xenobun@aol.com, 717-232-9665

PDA SEEKS HEMP RESEARCH PROJECTS

On November 27, the PA Department of Agriculture announced that it is taking applications for sixty 2019 industrial hemp research permits.  This is the third year for this program authorized by the Farm Bill.  As Secretary Redding told the State Council of Farm Organizations at its November meeting, hemp research expanded in PA from 70 acres in 2017 to 720 acres in 2018 with plans for 6,000 acres in 2019.  He pointed to industrial hemp’s many uses for fiber and food grade oil and expressed hope that the 2018 Farm Bill would remove barriers to wider production.  Deadline for applications is December 17, 2018.  Details:  717-787-4843, Bureau of Plant Industry.

https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plants_Land_Water/industrial_hemp/Pages/default.aspx

WINE GRANT OPPORTUNITY

PA Wine Board is seeking applications for grants to conduct promotion, marketing, and sale of wines, enhance the wine industry and benefit wine producers in Pennsylvania.  Deadline for proposals is January 18, 2019.  Details:  Patrick Andrews, patriandrew@pa.gov

PSCFO NEWS

Rick Leese has been named to the PSCFO Board, replacing Dan Leese whose family moved to China.  Representing the PA Farm Bureau, Rick is a Fulton County farmer raising beef cattle and vegetables as well as hog finishing.  Earlier, Colleen Hershey was appointed to fill the term of Amy Bradford who had a job change.  Colleen represents PennAg Industries Association.

DECEMBER IS A CROWDED MONTH

There are numerous events scheduled in December by various agricultural groups.

  • December 11-12, PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is presenting a two-day intensive workshop for experienced growers seeking to enter wholesale or institutional (hospitals/businesses, etc.) markets.  Location: Gibsonia, Allegheny County.  Details: www.pasafarming.org
  • Other PASA vegetable grower meetings are December 11 in Easton, Northampton County  on future planning and December 17 in Kintnersville, Bucks County, on Biologic Controls for Better Pest Management
  • December 11, PA Farmers Union presents the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Grower Certification Training in Gibsonia.  Details: pafarmersunion@gmail.com
  • December 12, Penn State Extension Dairy Team offers a free workshop on consistent milking practices that emphasize cleanliness, udder stimulation, etc. in Huntingdon.  Details: 877-345-0691
  • December 12, Penn State Extension Ag Issues Breakfast in Gettysburg will examine Agriculture Labor Law and the Temporary Agricultural Guest Worker Program (H-2 Program).  Details: Daniel Weber 717-334-6271 or Daniel.weber@psu.edu
  • Dec. 12 – Dec. 20, Penn State Extension and the PA Soybean Board are presenting soybean production workshops at Delaware Valley University, Pleasant Gap, Beaver, and Dauphin, PA.  Details: 877-345-0691

POLITICS:  STATE

  • Incumbent Republican Senator ‘Tommy’ Tomlinson’s (Bucks) is now the official winner of the 2018 election by 74 votes out of over 100,000 votes cast. Democratic challenger Tina Davis brought legal action to have additional absentee votes counted but was rebuffed by the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas.  Davis still retains her seat in the PA House.
  • Incumbent Republican Rep. Bud Cook’s (Washington/Fayette) lead shrank to 11 votes after provisional ballots were examined.
  • Pa Senate Republicans are seeking proof of residency in PA for Democrat Lindsay Williams who took the seat held by former Allegheny County Senator Randy Vulakovich. At issue is whether Williams met the constitutional requirement of four years residency, possibly having resided in Maryland for part of that time.

IN MEMORIUM…Former PA Representative Vincent Biancucci (D-Beaver) passed away at the age of 78.  He succeeded Nick Colafella in that position and served 2002 through 2008.

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