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


  • 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

  • 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
  • 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


  • Farm Journal Field Days: A Responsible Reinvention will take place August 25-27, 2020.  Details: and 877-692-4932.
  • PA Association of Sewage Enforcement Officers (PASEO) Western Conference will take place August 17 in Monroeville.  Details:
  • 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 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
  • 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:
  • The national Commodity Classic celebrates its 25th anniversary in San Antonio March 4-6, 2021.  Details: .


  • 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 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

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


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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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:
  • 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;
  • 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,  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:

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


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:


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 Governor Wolf.


  • 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
  • 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, .
  • 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.


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 or 1-800-234-9473.

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


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.


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


  • 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:

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 24

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.
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • 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:  Details: Matt Royer,
  • 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 or Nada Manmiller


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


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:

Ray Diebold Passes

Ray DieboldPSCFO is saddened to learn of the passing of Ray Diebold of Sinking Valley and, more recently, Altoona on June 8. Ray was a faithful member of the PSCFO board up until a year ago. Ray will be remembered for his dedication and hard work for the dairy industry and his wry sense of humor. He was a colleague and friend to many in agriculture and his leadership and good nature will be sorely missed.

Ray’s full obituary and service information is below:

Raymond J. Diebold, 75, Altoona, formerly of Sinking Valley died Monday morning at his home. He was born in Lockport, New York, son of the late Bruce W. and Ruth C. (Groff) Diebold.

He married Judith L. Ocker on June 22, 1963 at the University of Maryland Chapel, College Park, Md. Surviving are his bride; a daughter, Karen Diebold (Terry Conrad) of Juniata two sons, Kenneth (Cheryl) of Sinking Valley and Kevin (Angela) of Tyrone; four grandchildren, Mikayla, Madelyn and Karly Diebold and Corey Conrad; a step granddaughter, Kaitlyn DeArmitt; a step great granddaughter, Abigail DeArmitt; a sister, Dian (William) Johnson of Elkton, Md.; and two brothers, Thomas (Betty) and Daniel (Carol) both of Elkton, Md.; and many nieces and nephews.

Ray served with the US Army Reserves. He attended the University of Maryland where he studied Agronomy and Diary Science. He retired as a dairy farmer at Deer Line Farm, Sinking Valley after 35 years of dedication. Ray became a member of Dairylea Cooperative, Inc. in 1972 where he remained an active member of the board of directors for more than 30 years and was also active with various agricultural venues including Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation and the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program.

Ray was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Bellwood where he served as an usher and a member of Knights of Columbus Msgr. O`Malley Chapter, Bellwood.

Friends will be received from 2-5pm Friday, June 12, 2015 at Jon C. Russin Funeral Home, Inc. Bellwood where a vigil for the deceased will also be held and from 10-11am Saturday, June 13, 2015 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Bellwood. A funeral mass will be held at 11am Saturday at the church, Rev. David H. Roesch as celebrant.

The family suggests that contributions in Ray’s memory be made to FFA Tyrone Chapter c/o Tyrone Area School District Attention: Ag Program 1001 Clay Avenue Tyrone, PA 16686 or Home Nursing Hospice 201 Chestnut Avenue Altoona, PA 16601.


PSCFO Members in the News

Hannah Smith Brubaker 300x250


PSCFO Board member Hannah Smith-Brubaker has been named to serve the Commonwealth as a Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.  Previously, she served as President of the PA Farmers Union.

PSCFO President Brian Snyder (PASA) was appointed to a select advisory panel on food law and policy by UCLA School of Law.

Cheese-Making Growing In Pennsylvania

Cheese Sue MillerCHESTER SPRINGS – Sue Miller loves hanging out in her cheese cave.

“Sometimes I get attached to certain wheels of cheese,” said Miller, co-owner of Birchrun Hills Farm, a dairy farm in Chester Springs. “And my husband says, ‘You know, it’s meant to be sold.’ ”

She knows.

Her love of cheese grew out of necessity. About nine years ago, declining milk prices and rising costs had Miller and her husband, Ken, worried they might lose the small farm they hoped one day to pass on to their two sons.

Like other small dairy operators across the country, the first-generation farmers decided they needed to innovate to survive.

Read more in the Philadelphia Inquirer …

PSCFO Meets with Wolf Policy Chief Hanger

John-HangerHERSHEY – On December 15, several members of the PSCFO Board met privately with John Hanger, former DEP Secretary under former Governor Rendell and now Secretary of Policy and Planning for incoming Governor Tom Wolf.  Mr. Hanger said that he welcomes policy input from the PA State Council of Farm Organizations to the Wolf Administration.  According to PSCFO President Brian Snyder, this may be the first time PSCFO has met with an official at this level of an incoming administration.  Among the topics discussed were:

  • Need for adequate General Government Operations funds for the PA Department of Agriculture
  • Preservation of certain line items in PDA’s budget such as the Centers of Excellence, agricultural research, PA Preferred, and others
  • Importance of consistency in immigration rules. While a federal issue, state legislative initiatives could create an even more confusing set of rules for agricultural producers

Wolf Transistion Team includes PSCFO Members

Wolf transition 180x180HARRISBURG – The Wolf Transition Team for PDA includes six individuals from PSCFO member organizations: Chairman Russell Redding, Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Studies, Delaware Valley University.; Dr. MeeCee Baker (Versant Strategies); PSCFO Board member Hannah Smith-Brubaker (PA Farmers Union); Russell Biggica (PA Rural Electric Association); Joel Rotz (PA Farm Bureau); and Robert Maiden (PA Association of Conservation Districts).

Pechart Recognized, Huber Re-elected

pechart_bioPSCFO Recognizes Pechart

PSCFO’s June Council meeting recognized former PDA official Michael Pechart who served under Governors of both parties for eleven years and who retired from PDA earlier this year to take a private sector position. He was a huge resource for PDA and for the entire Agricultural Community.

Huber Re-Elected to PSU Board

In addition, Immediate Past PSCFO President Betsy Huber was re-elected to the
huberPenn State Board of Trustees. Congrats Betsy!

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