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.

AG ONE Newsletter November 7, 2018

Dear Reader:

Please pardon the length of this special issue of AG ONE Newsletter.  This election may cause changes in Washington and Harrisburg affecting PA Agriculture. If you know any of the re-elected legislators or newly minted lawmakers on a personal basis, do not hesitate to let your association know or simplye mail me at xenobun@aol.com .  Sincerely,Vince Phillips

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PENNSYLVANIA ELECTION RESULTS:  CONGRESS

Democratic Senator Bob Casey won a third term defeating Republican Lou Barletta 55.6% to 42.8%

In the U.S. House, Democrats were able to flip seats, achieving a new ratio of nine D seats to nine R seats.  Formerly, Democrats previously held six. 

Democrat Mary Scanlon defeated Republican Pearl Kim 65% to 35% in the 5th congressional district which includes Delaware and parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties.  Democrat Chrissy Houlahan prevailed over Republican Greg McCauley 58.8% to 41.2% in the 6th district including Berks/Chester Counties.  Democrat Susan Wild won over Republican Marty Nothstein 53.4% to 43.8% in the 7th district including Lehigh/Northampton/Monroe Counties.  Another southeastern PA seat (4th district Berks/Montgomery) was taken by Democratic State Representative Madeline Dean who beat Republican Dan David by 63-37%. There was no incumbent since the new 5th was built out of the former 13th district.

Democrat incumbent Conor Lamb was able to defeat incumbent Republican Keith Rothfus 56.1% to 43.9% in the new 17th congressional district including Beaver/Allegheny/Butler.  When the PA Supreme Court redrew the district lines, it dramatically improved Democrats’ chances and pitted the two incumbents against each other.

Other House races were won decisively with 55% or more. 

  • Incumbent Democrats:  Dwight Evans 93.4% representing Philadelphia; Mike Doyle (D-18) representing Allegheny County was unopposed; Brendan Boyle (D-3) representing Philadelphia, with 78.8% of the vote.
  • Incumbent Republicans:  Lloyd Smucker (R-11) representing Lancaster/York/Chester Counties 66.2%; Tom Marino (R-12 ranging from Bradford County to Perry County) 66.2%; Glenn Thompson (R-15 from Armstrong County in the west to Centre County in the east) 67.9%

Other incumbents returning to office are: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-10) in Bucks/Montgomery Counties; Matt Cartwright (D-8) in Lackawanna/Pike/Luzerne/Pike Counties; Scott Perry (R-10) representing Cumberland/Dauphin/York Counties; and Mike Kelly (R-16) representing Butler County north to Erie.

Other open seats were won by Republicans.  Former Secretary of the Corbett Administration Revenue Department Dan Meuser defeated dairy farmer and former Rendell Administration PA Secretary of Agriculture Denny Wolff in the 9th congressional district which includes Carbon/Lebanon/Montour/Schuylkill/Luzerne/Northumberland Counties.  State Senator Guy Reschenthaler defeated Democrat Bibiana Boerio in the 14th district (Fayette/Greene/Washington/Westmoreland Counties).  The 13th congressional district (Adams County to the south to Blair in the north, Cumberland east to Westmoreland in the west) was won by dermatologist John Joyce.

PA STATE SENATE

The Republicans lost some ground and no longer have a veto-proof majority but still control the Senate 28 to 21.  Five seats that flipped to Democrats are:

  • Incumbent Senate Majority Transportation Committee Chair John Rafferty (R-Berks/Chester/Montgomery) was defeated by Democrat Katie Muth 52-48%.  Muth is currently an adjunct professor of kinesiology. (Kinesiology is the study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement.)
  • Incumbent Tom McGarrigle (R-Delaware/Chester), Majority Chair of the Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee, lost to Swarthmore Mayor Democrat Tim Kearney 54.1 to 45.9%.
  • Retiring Senator Stewart Greenleaf’s son Stewart, Jr. was unable to retain this Montgomery County seat for the GOP.  He was defeated by Democrat Maria Collett, a nurse and former attorney.  The margin was 52.7 to 43.3%.
  • Incumbent Republican Randy Vulakovich (Allegheny) was defeated in the primary by Jeremy Shaffer.  Shaffer lost in the general election by ½ of 1% to Democrat Lindsey Williams, a teachers’ union employee. She campaigned for a single payer health system.  The vote margin was 549.
  • Retiring Republican Chuck McIlhinney (Bucks) was not succeeded by fellow Republican Marguerite Quinn who lost 52.5 to 47.5 percent against former Democratic State Representative Steve Santarsiero, an attorney and teacher.

Republicans held on to the open York County Senate seat vacated by Scott Wagner who ran for Governor.  Winner is current Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York).  Another open Senate seat retained by the GOP is where State Rep. Judy Ward (R-Blair) takes over from John Eichelberger.

Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks), Majority Chair of the Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee eked out a 100-vote victory over Democratic Rep. Tina Davis.  Rep. Davis did win re-election to her House seat with 62% of the vote.  PA state law allows a candidate to run for two different offices at the same time.  Senate Majority Appropriations Committee Chair Republican Pat Browne (Lehigh) edged out Democrat Mark Pinsley 51.4 to 48.6% while   Senate Majority Caucus Chair Republican Bob Mensch survived an election scare by beating Democrat Linda Fields 52.5 to 47.5%.

PA HOUSE RESULTS

The 2018 election continued the trend of Democrats picking up seats in the southeast while Republicans did better in western PA.

  • Majority Chair of the House Local Government Committee Republican Kate Harper (Montgomery County) lost by eight percentage points to Democratic attorney Liz Hanbridge.  Rep. Harper has served since 2003.
  • Incumbent Rep. Becky Corbin (R-Chester) lost 55-45% against Democrat anti-pipeline activist Danielle Friel Otten.  Corbin was elected in 2012.
  • Fellow Chester County Republican Duane Milne was defeated 52-48% by county children’s caseworker Kristine Howard.  Milne has been in office since 2007.
  • Incumbent Tom Quigley (R-Montgomery) was defeated by Democrat and Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts promotions director Joseph Ciresi.  Quigley served 2005-2012, was defeated and regained his seat in 2014.
  • Rep. Warren Kampf (R-Chester/Montgomery) lost 57-44% to Democrat Melissa Shusterman who runs a digital video company.  Kampf has served in the PA House since 2011.
  • Delaware County first-term Republican Alex Charlton lost to Democrat Jennifer O’Mara by a razor-thin margin of 154 votes.  O’Mara is employed by the University of Pennsylvania. 
  • Chester County first-term Rep. Eric Roe was defeated by Democrat Christina Sappey, who was chief of staff for Rep. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester).
  • Incumbent two-term Republican James Santora (Delaware) lost to Democrat Michael Zabel, an attorney and former assistant district attorney.

Several retiring southeast Republican-held open seats also went Democratic.

  • Rep. John Taylor’s Philadelphia seat was taken by Democrat Joe Hohenstein, an immigrant rights attorney.
  • Rep. Bob Godshall’s Montgomery County seat went to Democrat Steven Malagari, a beer distributor.
  • The seat held by Rep. Harry Lewis (R-Chester) will now be represented by Democratic pastor and former Teamster Dan Williams.
  • The seat held by Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks) will now be held by Democrat Wendy Ullman, a community college English teacher.
  • The seat held by Rep. Michael Corr (R-Montgomery) went to Democrat Joe Webster, a vice president of Accenture, a global technology/business strategies company,
  • Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Delaware)’s seat was taken by Democrat Dave Delloso, a Teamster official.

Democrats retained a Democratic seat in Montgomery Countywhere attorney Ben Sanchez took over from congressional winner Madeline DeanPhiladelphia Democratic Rep. Bill Keller’s seat went to WHYY reporter Elizabeth Fiedler.  Gay rights activist Malcolm Kenyatta succeeds his cousin, Rep. Curtis Thomas in Philadelphia.  Replacing deceased Rep. Mike O’Brien is Mary Isaacson, his chief of staff. 

Despite the beating Republicans took in southeast PA, first-term Democratic Rep. Helen Tai (Bucks), who won in a special election this year, lost to Republican Wendi Thomas by 354 votes.  Winner Thomas was also her opponent earlier this year.  Thomas is a former school board member and advocated patient interests for HealthAdvocate.

  • Republicans also retained the seat held by Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks) who retired.  Winner Meghan Schroeder was a staff person for Rep. O’Neill.  Another GOP win came with the re-election of Rep. Martina White.  She will be the only Republican from Philadelphia although returning Rep. Tom Murt’s Montgomery County based district does include part of the city.  The Bucks County seat vacated by Rep. Kathy Watson was retained by Republican F. Todd Polinchock, a realtor.  Incumbent Tim Hennessey (R-Chester), Majority Chair of the House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee was able to save his seat 52.8 to 47.2% from Democrat Pam Hacker, a union electrician.  Early returns showed Hennessey as having lost the contest.

Three Democratic seats were taken by GOP candidates:

  • Rep. Bryan Barbin (D-Cambria), Minority Chair of the House Game & Fisheries Committee, lost to Republican Jim Rigby, a former police officer.  This was Rigby’s third attempt to take the Barbin seat.  Rep. Barbin was elected in 2008.
  • Rep. Helen Tai (D-Bucks) lost to Wendi Thomas.
  • Rep. Mike Hanna (D-Clinton)’s son Michael Hanna, Jr. was unable to hold onto this Democratic seat.  He lost to Republican Stephanie Borowicz, a homemaker and pastor’s wife.  The Democrats held that seat for twenty years.

SOME OF THE NEW FACES TO NOTE

  • Democrat Kyle Mullins, an aide to Senator Blake, replaces fellow Democrat Kevin Haggerty who did not seek re-election for this Lackawanna County seat.
  • Replacing long-time Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) is fellow Republican Andrew Lewis, a construction company Chief Operating Officer.  The 512-vote margin was closer than expected.
  • Rep. Judy Ward (R-Blair) who won a race for PA Senate is succeeded by fellowRepublican WRTA radio host and school board member James Gregory.
  • The new Republican Representative from Adams/Cumberland Counties is attorney and self-described cattle hand Torren Ecker.  He replaced Rep. Will Tallman who retired.
  • Beaver County attorney Joshua Kail keeps this open seat vacated by Rep. Jim Christiana in the Republican column.
  • Also staying with the GOP is the Allegheny/Washington Counties seat that was held by outgoing Rep. Rick Saccone.  The Representative-elect is Michael Puskaric who holds a title insurance license.
  • Replacing retiring Rep. John Maher (R-Washington/Allegheny) is Republican Natalie Mihalek, whose bio says that she works for a ‘large financial institution’.  She is an attorney.
  • Retiring Rep. Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny)’s replacement is Republican Valerie Gaydos who started the PA Angel Network (investments).
  • Murrysville Republican Mayor Robert Brooks kept this Allegheny/Westmoreland in GOP hands, formerly represented by Rep. Eli Evankovich.
  • President of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce Republican James Struzzi succeeded retiring Rep. Dave Reed.
  • Succeeding retiring Rep. Hal English (R-Allegheny) is Republican township commissioner Lori Mizgorski.

SPECIAL ELECTION NOTES 

There will be two special elections in Democratic House districts.  Unopposed Rep. Sid Kavulich (Lackawanna) passed away.  Unopposed Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (Phila.) was conflicted for violating the state’s conflict of interest law

Republican Guy Reschenthaler’s congressional win means a special election for the Washington/Allegheny Senate seat.

BITS AND PIECES

Following are items that readers may find interesting.

  • Brandon Markosek is succeeding his dad to represent his Allegheny County House district.  He will have big shoes to fill as Rep. Joe Markosek had not missed a single vote in his 36 years in the House of Representatives.  Brandon Markosek has been a legislative aide and won with 57.6% of the vote.
  • Even though Marty Nothstein did not win against Susan Wild in the 7th congressional district, the Allentown Morning Call reports 11/7 that he may have won the special election to fill out former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent’s term.  If the votes go his way, he will be sworn into Congress and serve for six weeks before Wild begins the new term.
  • Allies of Rep. Dom Costa (D-Allegheny) mounted an unsuccessful general election write-in campaign against Democratic Socialist-endorsed Sara Innamorato who had defeated him in the primary.
  • The new Representative from Juniata/Mifflin/Franklin Counties, Jonathan Hershey is the nephew of former Rep. Art Hershey (R-Chester) who was the former Chair of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.  Hershey served as an agriculture legislative assistant to former Rep. Charlie Dent.
  • As of this point, with one exception, no new legislators appear to have insurance licenses. 

FARMING BACKGROUNDS

There are several legislators with farming backgrounds including re-elected Rep. Mark Keller (R-Perry) and Rep. Aaron Bernstein (R-Lawrence/Beaver/Butler). 

Newcomer Representative-elect Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) who replaced departing Rep. Steven Bloom also farms..

COMMITTEE UPDATES

The Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee had no changes in membership due to the election.

The House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee will have at least four member vacancies:  Rep. Steve Bloom (R-Cumberland) and Rep. Kevin Haggerty (D-Lackawanna) who did not run for re-election; Rep. Emilio Vasquez (D-Phila.) who lost in the primary; and Rep. Sid Kavlulich (D-Lackawanna) who passed away.

The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee had no changes in membership due to this election.

The House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee will need a new Majority Chair since Rep. John Maher (R-Washington/Allegheny) did not run for re-election.  The committee loses two additional members:  Rep. Becky Corbin (R-Chester) and Rep. Steve Bloom (R-Cumberland).  Corbin lost her re-election bid.  Bloom did not run for re-election.

SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR

  • House Bill 544 as Act 98 of 2018 (Moul-R-Adams) limits liability for property owners who permit recreational use of property where no admission fee is charged.
  • 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.
  • Senate Bill 1171 as Act 162 of 2018 (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 1216 AS Act 104 of 2018 (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.

VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR

  • 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. Veto message: https://www.governor.pa.gov/governor-wolf-takes-action-multiple-bills

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 establish the Rural Health Redesign Center, a public-private partnership to help rural hospitals upgrade care and address solvency issues.
  • House Bill 1550 (Klunk-R-York) would allow for voluntary relinquishment of a preserved farmland’s additional residence provision. 
  • House Resolution 429 sponsored by Representatives Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington) would establish a special legislative task force on delivery of high-speed Broadband for rural areas.. 
  • House Bill 2131 (Quigley-R-Montgomery), use of native plants by PennDOT and Senate Bill 792 (Alloway-R-Franklin), regarding fertilizer.

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.

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”.

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