AG ONE Newsletter August 11, 2020 Part II

Dear Reader:

This is Part II of the AG ONE Newsletter Resource Edition.  If you know of additional resources, please pass that information on to PSCFO.  As always, thank you for your support of PA Agriculture.

Sincerely, Vince Phillips    ******************************************

MORE RESOURCES

  • The Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) announced two grant programs in August. 
  • First is a program planning, land acquisition, development of educational programs, etc. for snowmobile and related ATV projects. Applications only will be accepted electronically through DCNR’s online grant application system. Applications will be taken up through September 30, 2020.
  • DCNR’s Wild Resource Conservation Program which safeguards PA’s non-game animals, native plants, and their habitats is receiving applications to protect native biodiversity. There are three funding areas, species surveys, conservation, and management.  Among the priorities for this grant is fire management.  Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, August 3, through 4:00 P.M. on Friday, September 25. Applications will only be accepted electronically through DCNR’s online grant application system.
  • Federal Resources

Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Ranchers and Veteran Farmers
OPPE-014: USDA is making approx. $15 million available funding to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers own and operate successful farms. The program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement (OPPE). Closing date: Aug. 26, 2020.

USDA: Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) provides direct relief to agricultural producers, including farmers and ranchers, who have faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19. Closing date:  Aug. 28, 2020.

Round Three Solicitation for Farmers to Families Food Box Program

USDA is currently accepting applications for round three of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.  Non-profit and faith-based organizations may apply to be distributors – or may consider partnering with contracted entities which participate.  Helpful information includes the Farmers to Families Food Box Program FAQs and How to Become a USDA Vendor.  Also informational webinars are posted here.

Additional commodities are covered by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline to apply for the program to September 11th, and producers with approved applications will receive their final payment.  To see a list of the additional commodities, go to https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Pennsylvania/news-releases/2020/stnr_08062020_037?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

  • PA Farm Bill
  • Conservation Excellence Grants fund on-farm measures that reduce erosion and improve soil and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Program opened July 1, 2020.  Contact: Eric Cramer 223-666-2558 or ecromer@pa.gov.
  • Dairy Indemnity Program relief is available to farmers who experienced financial loss because of COVID-19 (for example forced dumping of milk). Deadline to apply is September 30. Contact: Morgan Sheffield 717-787-3568 or msheffield@pa.gov.

MEETING NEWS

  • Farm Journal Field Days: A Responsible Reinvention will take place August 25-27, 2020.  Details: AgInfo@farmjournal.com and 877-692-4932.
  • PA Association of Sewage Enforcement Officers (PASEO) Western Conference will take place August 17 in Monroeville.  Details: https://www.pa-seo.org/wp1/education/paseo-conference-trade-show/conference-registration/.
  • 64th Annual Keystone International Livestock Exposition that was to have taken place September 25-October 4 has been cancelled.
  • PA Farm Bureau will hold its Annual Meeting virtually this fall.  Registration and program details were not available on their website as of August 11.  Contact: Kim Flegal at klflegal@pfb.com or 717-731-3580.
  • PA State Grange’s State Session in Erie October 24-27 will be limited to delegates only.  Details: Wayne Campbell 717-275-5045.
  • PA Association of Conservation Districts (PACD) in partnership with the PA NRCS State Office and the State Conservation Commission is convening a three-day Intro to Conservation Planning Course November 4-6, 2020 in Harrisburg.  Details: Shannon Wehinger at swehinger@pacd.org.
  • Pasa Sustainable Agriculture will convene its 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in 2021 and will be virtual.  This format change means that the virtual conference will take place over the course of several weeks in January and February instead of a concentrated four-day event.  Details: www.pasafarming.org/conference.
  • The national Commodity Classic celebrates its 25th anniversary in San Antonio March 4-6, 2021.  Details:  www.commodityclassic.com .

HEARINGS

  • On August 3, the Senate Majority Policy Committee convened a hearing in western PA on the impact the coronavirus has had on rural health care.  Among the stresses are cancellations of elective procedures which impacted both rural health budgets and the health of rural residents.  One of the suggestions was to have better availability of Broadband Internet coverage so as to provide rural residents with remote health care where feasible.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…August 2-8 was National Farmers’ Market Week.

AG ONE Newsletter August 11, 2020

Dear Reader:

Right now, there are underutilized resources as well as opportunities for the Agricultural Community to provide input to policymakers.  One of the best is a daily report from the PA Department of Agriculture which presents developments in how the state is confronting the coronavirus as well as identifying possible resources. If interested, may I suggest that you contact  RA-agpolicyoffice@pa.gov?  I hope some of these will prove themselves to be useful.

Sincerely, Vince Phillips 

USDA OFFERS ORGANIC CERTIFICATION HELP

USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced that organic producers can apply for Federal funds to assist with up to 50% of costs of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification and Cost Share Program.  Applications for eligible certification expenses paid between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, are due on October 31, 2020. Details:

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/occsp/index?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

DEP OFFERS ENERGY GRANTS TO FARMERS

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is offering grants of 50% (up to $7,000) to firms and farmers that reduce energy costs by $500 or more by adopting practices or acquiring equipment.  Last year, 233 small businesses were awarded grants for their projects. Natural resource protection projects may include planting riparian buffers, installation of streambank fencing to keep livestock out of streams, and investing in agricultural storm water management projects, with the goal of reducing sediment and nutrient loads in our waterways.  Costs incurred between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, are eligible.  Applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2020-21 funds are exhausted or April 12, 2021, whichever occurs first.

All applications must be submitted through the Commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance. Printed, faxed, and mailed applications are not accepted.

USDA ANNOUNCES NEW SERVICES EVALUATION SURVEY

On August 7, USDA announced a new national survey of 28,000 agricultural producers.  Its purpose is to critique services provided by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.  The survey contains 20 questions.  To take the survey, go to https://www.farmers.gov/survey

HHS PLANS MEDICARE TELEHEALTH PERMANENCE

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing changes to expand telehealth permanently, consistent with the Executive Order on Improving Rural and Telehealth Access. To learn more about the public input CMS is seeking and additional information about the proposed rule read the August 3 press release here. Among other things, the Administration seeks to continue paying for telehealth check-ins to determine whether a person needs a physical visit to receive health care versus doing it remotely. 10.1 million Medicare recipients have availed themselves to use this consultative resource between March and July.  Another set of changes would be to add to the list of telehealth services such as home health care follow up eligible for Medicare payments. CMS is also seeking to simplify physician coding of treatments (saving doctors’ administrative time) and focusing more on chronic conditions.

COVID-19 SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS, PART II

The COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program (https://www.progressfund.org/grants-for-small-businesses/) began receiving applications August 10.  Grants between $5,000 and $50,000 are available for businesses with 25 or fewer employees before March 1.  One of the primary priority categories are businesses located in rural communities with high population loss, low income, and higher than average unemployment.  This grant program is managed by the Progress Fund for the western half of the state.  Contacts:  If north of I-80, call 800-895-1376.  If south of I-80, call 724-216-9160.  August 28 is the end of this grant application period.

HHS LISTS FEDERAL RURAL RESOURCES 

On August 10, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued a list of Federal resources designed for rural communities.  Note the August 19 webinar about the Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit , a newly released toolkit that compiles evidence-based and promising models and resources to support organizations implementing programs that address the social determinants of health in rural communities.  Upcoming Webinar is Wed. Aug. 19, 2020. 1:00 p.m. EDT.  Register here.

CDC’s COVID-19 and Rural Communities  About 46 million Americans live in rural areas and are facing distinctive challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC updated its information on rural communities and their response to the crisis.

Resources Supporting Rural Healthcare Surge Readiness  The COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group, a partnership with HHS, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies provide support and guidance for healthcare delivery and workforce capacity and protection.  In particular, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) launched the Rural Community Toolbox website, a clearinghouse for funding and resources to support rural leaders in addressing substance use disorder (SUD) and the opioid crisis.  The Community Assessment Tool is especially helpful.

APHIS SEEKS PEST AND DISEASE INPUT

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking feedback on its proposed list of pests and diseases of concern that are likely to pose a high risk to U.S. agricultural and natural resources.  APHIS is publishing the list on its website.  The agency will review comments from the public about the list, including suggestions of pests or diseases that should be added or removed.   Comments may be submitted to APHISPestDiseaseList@usda.gov.

AG ONE Newsletter June 26, 2020

Dear Reader:

As the following article states, there have been leadership changes in the PA House of Representatives following former Speaker Turzai’s resignation.  This new leadership certainly helps to keep Agriculture as a visible priority.  Speaker Cutler is from Lancaster County.  Majority Leader Benninghoff is from Centre County while Majority Whip Oberlander represents Clarion/Forest/Armstrong Counties. Ag Committee Chair Marty Causer is the new Majority Policy Committee Chair. If you would like to congratulate Rep. Causer, his email is mcauser@pahousegop.com.

Sincerely, Vince Phillips    ******************************************

AG CHAIR ASSUMES NEW LEADERSHIP ROLE

PA House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee Marty Causer (R-Cameron/Potter/McKean) was elected to the position of Majority (Republican) Policy Committee Chair as part of leadership selections following the resignation of former Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) on June 15.  The Policy Committee convenes regional hearings on topics of interest to legislators and taxpayers. Causer succeeds Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion) in that position.  Other leadership changes include:

  • Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) is the new Speaker of the House.
  • Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre) was elected Majority Leader, succeeding Rep. Cutler.
  • Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion) was elected as Majority Whip, succeeding Rep. Benninghoff.

These leaders will serve until the end of this legislative session in November.  Then, they may choose to run for re-election in the session of 2021-22.

ASSISTANCE FOR DAIRY FARMERS

Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers adversely impacted by COVID-19 mitigation efforts can now apply for a share of $40 million in funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Any dairy farm that experienced financial losses due to discarded or displaced milk during the COVID-19 emergency disaster has until Sept. 30 to apply for assistance. The funding includes:

$15 million in direct relief payments.
$5 million to reimburse dairy farmers who participate in the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) program by donating excess dairy product.
$15 million for the State Food Purchase Program, which provides cash grants to counties for the purchase and distribution of food to low-income individuals.
$5 million to reimburse the agriculture industry for costs involved in harvesting, processing, packaging and transporting food that they donate.  Click here for more information.

BROADBAND BILLS MOVE

On June 22, the Senate Communications & Technology Committee favorably reported bills advancing access to high-speed Broadband.  Two of them, House Bill 2438 (Owlett-R-Bradford/Tioga/Potter) and Senate Bill 1118 (Pittman-R-Indiana/Armstrong), would make it easier for rural electric cooperatives to use existing electrical lines to provide Broadband.  The third bill, Senate Bill 835 (Langerholc-R-Cambria/Clearfield/Bedford), establishes the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program which would be managed by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. Not acted upon at the committee meeting was House Bill 2348 sponsored by Rep. Marty Causer (R-McKean/Potter/Cameron).  It would redirect monies from a tax credit fund into a Broadband matching grant program.  It passed the PA House 202-0 on June 10.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

  • Ensuring distribution of Fair Fund dollars to County Fairs (Senate Bill 1182 sponsored by Senator Michele Brooks (R-Mercer/Erie/Warren/Crawford) was reported out by the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee on June 23.  The committee also reported out: Senate Bill 881 (Martin-R-Lancaster) to allow access to public farm preservation funds by land trusts; House Bill 441 (Sonney-R-Erie) to allow preserved farms of 50-plus acres to grant a right of way to install a wind power generation system; and House Bill 2435 (Kosierowski-D-Lackawanna) to assist food processing plants by providing reimbursement for the purchase of personal protection gear (coronavirus).
  • Senate Bill 1030 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) was signed into law as Act 34 of 2020.  It reaffirms the ability to install specialized septic systems called ‘alternate systems.
  • House Bill 102 (Maloney-R-Berks) was signed into law as Act 27 of 2020.  It allows access to after-hour schools for hunting education.
  • Presented to the Governor for his signature on June 24 was House Bill 1118 (Wentling-R-Lawrence/Mercer/Crawford/Erie) to remove restrictions on the use of thermal and night vision equipment for hunting.

CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS      

  • August’s big agricultural event, AG Progress Days, is cancelled (coronavirus).
  • The next meeting of the Penn State Ag Council will take place on October 15, 2020.  Details: Geremy Kephart 814-863-2822.
  • National All-American Dairy Show that was scheduled to begin September 12, 2020, has been cancelled.  The 2021 dates are September 18-21.  Details: aads@pa.gov.
  • The 2020 Maryland Commodity Classic on July 23 will no longer be a person to person event.  Details on this Virtual event: MD Grain Producers Association 443-262-8491; Lindsay.mdag@gmail.com.
  • The PA Friends of Agriculture Foundation’s Educators’ Ag Institute is offering five free online workshops starting July 9.  These will help educators incorporate agriculture into their curriculum.  Emphasis will be on specific lessons and tools they can use in their classroom.  Educators who attend all sessions can earn up to twenty Act 48 credits.  Details: Charlene Espenshade, cmespenshade@pfb.com.  This replaces the in-person Ag Institute workshops that were cancelled due to the coronavirus.

 

PSCFO AG DIRECTORY REMINDER Some quantities are available free of charge to PSCFO members.  Details: xenobun@aol.com.

AG ONE Newsletter April 20, 2020

Dear Reader:

Today, Governor Wolf announced the easing of some restrictions.  Hopefully, that marks the beginning of the end of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis which has decimated much of Pennsylvania’s Agriculture economy. The stay at home order has been extended until May 8.

Sincerely, Vince Phillips    ******************************************

NEW GRANT OPPORTUNITY FOR FARMERS, PROCESSORS

Between April 20 and 24, businesses with 250 employees or less involved in production and processing foods may apply for up to a $15,000 grant from Giant Foods.  Details:

https://teampa.com/giant-ag-grants/.

GOVERNOR LOOSENS SOME BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS

On April 20, Governor Tom Wolf announced several measures designed to loosen the March business closing edict issued in March. Construction may resume May 8.  Links follow:

Governor’s Business Amendment
Health Secretary’s Business Amendment
Online Car Sales Guidance
Updated Industry Operation Guidance
Updated Industry Operation FAQ

Remote notarization (important to auto and farm equipment sales and farm credit) is included as part of Senate Bill 841 which was signed into law as Act 15 of 2020.by Governor Wolf.

CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS      

  • The May 11 PA State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) Board and Council are cancelled.
  • FFA’s annual summer Washington Leadership Conference is cancelled.  Dates of the National FFA Convention & Exposition remain Oct. 28-31 in Indianapolis.
  • The Penn State. Trustee election by agricultural interests has been postponed, date to be announced.  Details: 814-865-9561 or sll5@psu.edu.
  • American Guernsey Association’s June 2020 convention in Seven Springs is cancelled. The 2021 date is June 12-15, again at Seven Springs.
  • PA Cattlemens’ Association evaluation of a new date for its annual convention will be announced after May 1st.  Details: 717-825-9824, pca@pacattlemen.org .
  • The April 23 in-person meeting of the Legislative Task Force & Advisory Committee on High-Speed Broadband Services is cancelled. The next meeting will be remote May 8.

PUC ISSUES PHONE SUBSIDY REMINDER

The PA Utility Commission (PUC) issued a reminder to those under the Federal Poverty Guidelines that they are eligible for Federal subsidies on their land line telephone or Internet service.  Current amounts are $7.25 monthly for landline or wireless and $9.25 for Broadband, fixed or mobile.   Yearly income eligibility is $17,226 for one person, $23,274 for two, $29,322 for three, $35,370 for four persons and $6,048 per person thereafter. How to apply:  Lifeline Telephone and Broadband Assistance Program www.kifelinesupport.org or 1-800-234-9473.

The PUC reports that Verizon has the Lifeline 100 program offering an additional $2.50 subsidy.

LEGISLATIVE UDATES

While the General Assembly is focused on coping with COVID-19, for example passing legislation to rescind Governor Wolf’s business closure decree Senate Bill 613 (Mensch-R-Bucks/Berks/Montgomery) vetoed April 20 and Senate Bill 327 (Argall-R-Schuylkill/Berks), there were other actions affecting rural PA.

  • Legislation requiring business interruption insurance policies to cover losses caused by COVID-19 was introduced by Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Phila.).  Senate Bill 1114 was referred to the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee April 15.  A companion bill, House Bill 2372 (Dermody-D-Allegheny) was introduced and referred to the House Insurance Committee April 3.
  • Senate Bill 1097 (Mastriano-R-Franklin) would make the temporary OK on remote notarization permanent.  Status: Reported out by the Senate Appropriations Committee April 15.
  • House Bill 1869 (Owlett-R-Tioga/Potter/Bradford) would relax some of the staffing requirements for emergency medical services – something potentially important in hard-pressed rural areas.  It was reported out by the Senate Appropriations Committee April 15.

PSCFO AG DIRECTORY REMINDER

The PSCFO Agricultural Directory for 2020 has been released.  Some quantities are available free of charge to PSCFO members, the media, and public officials.  For non-members and others, there will be a modest charge for shipping and handling.  Please advise PSCFO by emailing xenobun@aol.com.

USDA ANNOUNCES RURAL COVID-19 RESOURCES

  • USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant proposals are due by June 15, 2020.
  • Until September 30, 2020, lenders may offer 180-day loan payment deferrals without prior agency approval for USDA Business & Industry Loan Guarantees, Rural Energy for America Program Loan Guarantees, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees, and Water & Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees.
  • USDA issued the COVID-19 Federal Rural Resources Guide on April 13.  It is billed as a one-stop-shop of Federal programs that can be used by rural communities, organizations, and individuals affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

TO NOTE…Penn State Center for Pollinator Research has a new website containing educational lesson plans relating to ecology and habitat.  Might this be an at-home educational resource?  Details:  https://ento.psu.edu/pollinators/resources-and-outreach/materials-for-k-12-classroom.

AG ONE Newsletter March 27, 2020

Dear Reader:

Hopefully, this issue of AG ONE Newsletter will contain information of value to you and your families given the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.  Most recently, PSCFO provided updated lists of cancellations and postponements of agricultural activities.  By now, most changes are known but AG ONE Newsletter will publish those that may not have made the previous lists.

Sincerely, Vince Phillips    ******************************************

~  Updates from the PA Department of Health on COVID-19, guidance on keeping safe, etc. For the most accurate and timely information regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.

List of essential businesses (“life-sustaining”) was updated March 24https://www.scribd.com/document/452553026/UPDATED-2-30pm-March-24-2020-Industry-Operation-Guidance

NOTE:  Agricultural activities are still on the life sustaining industry list.  This means that they may continue physical operations.  Following is a partial list of farming activities:  Oilseed and grain farming; Vegetable farming; Fruit and tree nut farming; Greenhouse, Nursery and floriculture production, Cattle ranching and farming; Swine farming; Poultry and egg production, Sheep and goat farming; Animal aquaculture; and “support for crop and animal activities”.  Food manufacturing may continue physical operations.

Logging was recently not permitted but is now approved. Also permitted are sawmills, veneer, plywood, and engineered wood product manufacturing, pulp, paper and paperboard mills.  On the approved list are pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing and farm product raw material merchant wholesalers as well as trucking.

~ PA Department of Agriculture Lists Resources. 

  • The Center for Dairy Excellence listed a number of resources for dairy farmers including guidance documents regarding the coronavirus.  Download COVID-19 guidelines for your farm.  The March 27 email urges that farmers have written contingency plans to ensure that they can continue to operate in the midst of this crisis.  Details: Melissa Anderson at 717-636-0779. manderson@centerfordairyexcellence.org
  • A guidance letter was sent to PA veterinarians March 16.  It included instructions on what vets should tell clients including that there is no evidence to suggest animals play a role in the transmission of this virus.  https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Pages/COVID-19.aspx
  • Farmers’ Markets:  a farmer’s market is relocating temporarily due to COVID-19, the PA Department of Agriculture will not need to issue a new food safety license.

Insurance Commissioner Issues Notice to Insurance Companies.  Because of increased unemployment due to COVID-19, insurance companies are encouraged by the PA Insurance Department to show forbearance in policyholders’ difficult financial situations.  Consistent with prudent insurance practices, insurers should consider:  relaxing due dates for premium payments; extending grace periods; waiving late fees and penalties; and allowing for payment plans.

NOTES:  This applies to commercial and personal property/casualty, accident/health, and life policies.  Policyholders have the responsibility to contact the insurer and insurance producers `to explain their individual difficulties in meeting payment schedules.

A second notice to insurance companies specifies that there should NOT be any fees, deductibles, or out-of-pocket costs connected with getting a COVIS-19 test.

CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS                                                                           Penn State Extension announced that Extension events will be cancelled until May 15.  To learn more about Penn State’s event cancelations and response to COVID-19, please see the following link: https://extension.psu.edu/coronavirus-information

  • House Majority Agriculture & Rural Affairs Chair Marty Causer (R-McKean/Potter/Cameron) and Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) report that State and Federal income tax filing deadlines have been changed to from April 15 to July 15. Taxpayers are still encouraged to file sooner rather than later, especially if they are expecting a refund. Online filings are able to be processed more quickly. — The deadline for seniors and people with disabilities to apply for the 2019 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program has been extended to Dec. 31. Click here for more information.
  • The March 31 PA Horse Racing Commission meeting is rescheduled for April 28.
  • PA’s primary election has been rescheduled for June 2 (from April 28).
  • The return date for farmers in Adams, Franklin, York, and Lancaster Counties taking a Penn State survey on conservation practices has been extended until May 1.  The link for more information about the survey and to fill it out online is:  http://src.survey.psu.edu/farmbmp/.  Details: Matt Royer, mzr154@psu.edu.
  • Pesticide applicator exam sessions have been cancelled.  All third-party testing sites are closed.  Private applicators with March 31 expiration dates can look to June 1 as their new deadline.  Details: Jessica Lenker jeslenker@pa.gov or Nada Manmiller nmanmiller@pa.gov.

PSCFO AG DIRECTORY REMINDER

The PSCFO Agricultural Directory for 2020 has been released.  Some quantities are available free of charge to PSCFO members, the media, and public officials.  For non-members and others, there will be a modest charge for shipping and handling.  Please advise PSCFO by emailing xenobun@aol.com.

WHAT’S IN THE $2 TRILLON FEDERAL STIMULUS PACKAGE?

Hopefully, these links supplied by Farm Journal’s AgWeb will be helpful.  Link to full text of the legislation.   Link to a summary of the $340 billion supplemental appropriations.  Link to a section-by-section summary of the rest of the $2 trillion package, including tax, unemployment insurance health care, small-business loans, aid to airlines and other hard-hit industries.

In addition, U.S. Senate Democrats offer this six-page summary of the legislation: 

https://www.senatorhughes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/C3_Summary.pdf

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.

******************************************

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.

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