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.

AG ONE Newsletter May 21, 2018

DENNIS WOLFF WINS NOMINATION FOR U.S. REP.

Dairy farmer and former PA Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff won a contested Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district.  He will square off against former State Treasurer Republican Dan Meuser.  The district includes all or parts of Lebanon, Schuylkill, Northumberland, Montour, Columbia, Luzerne, and Carbon Counties.  This is an open seat held by Rep. Lou Barletta who won the Republican nomination to face off against incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Casey.  Casey holds a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

OWLETT WINS HOUSE SPECIAL ELECTION

Farmer turned manufacturer Republican Clint Owlett won the special election to succeed Rep. Matt Baker (R-Potter/Tioga/Bradford) who resigned his seat in the PA House to take a position in the Trump Administration.  Owlett has a dairy farming background, helped run the family farmers’ market and is now in the construction business.  The seat stays Republican.

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER TWO SPECIAL ELECTIONS?

  • Democrats were able to take the seat held by Republican Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks) who left his House seat to head the Philadelphia Parking Authority.  Winner of the special election was Helen Tai, a township supervisor who owns a business consulting firm.  She is a Penn State Master Gardener.
  • The third special election was a break-through moment for Washington County Republicans when GOP candidate Tim O’Neal won 54.7% of the vote in this historically Democratic district.  He succeeds former Democratic Rep. Brandon Neuman who won a judicial election. Neal is a construction firm executive who also has energy industry experience.

WHICH CANDIDATES HAVE AGRICULTURAL BACKGROUNDS?

In addition to those cited above, there were several candidates in contested primaries with agricultural backgrounds.

  • Republican candidate for Governor Scott Wagner grew up on a farm.
  • Current Rep. Judy Ward (R-Blair) faces organic farmer and farmers’ cooperative manager Emily Best for an open Blair/Fulton County Senate seat.  (John Eichelberger’s seat.)
  • Incumbent Mark Gillen (R-Berks)’s opponent, Democrat Douglas Metcalfe, grew up on a farm and is now a nonprofit manager and school board member.
  • PA’s Perry County has two farmers running against each other.  Incumbent Republican and House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee member and Majority Chair of the House Urban Affairs Committee Mark Keller is opposed by Democrat Karen Anderson.
  • Republican Jonathan Hershey (Juniata/Mifflin/Franklin) grew up with farming and his family’s farm equipment operation.  He worked for U.S. Rep. Charles Dent on Ag issues.
  • Republican Barb Gleim (Cumberland) earned an MBA from Delaware Valley University in Food & Agribusiness.  She also farms and raises cattle.  (Rep. Steve Bloom’s seat)

HOW DID MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AGRICULTURE & RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE DO?

Unlike the House where all members run for election every two years, the Senate has elections for one-half of its members every two years.  Neither Majority Chair Elder Vogel (R-Beaver) or Minority Chair Judy Schwank (D-Berks) are up for election.  Seeking re-election this fall and running unopposed in their respective primaries are:

  • Republican member Michelle Brooks (R-Erie/Crawford/Mercer/Warren) who is opposed by Democrat nurse Sue Ann Mulvey.
  • Republican member Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) who faces Democrat electrician William Troutman, Jr. in the fall.
  • Democratic member John Blake (D-Luzerne/Lackawanna) against Republican Frank Scavo, an aftermarket auto parts distributor general manager.

HOW DID MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE AGRICULTURE & RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE DO?

All House members are elected every two years.  Majority Chair Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter) was unopposed in the primary and has no opposition in November.  Minority Chair Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) was unopposed in his Democratic primary but has an opponent for the fall, Republican grocery product selector Gregory Wolovich.

  • Member Steve Bloom (R-Cumberland) did not run for re-election to his House seat due to his campaign for Congress.
  • Member Kevin Haggerty (D-Lackawanna) did not run for re-election.  Contenders for that district are Democratic Capitol Hill staffer (for Senator Blake) Kyle Mullins vs. Republican industrial salesperson Earnest Lemoncello.
  • Member Emilio Vazquez (D-Phila.) fell in the Democratic primary to grocery store owner Danilo Burgos.
  • Several committee members were unopposed in the primary or won their primary and do not have fall opponents:  Representatives Mike Tobash (R-Schuylkill), Sid Kavulich (D-Lackawanna), David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster), Morgan Cephus (D-Phila.), Karen Boback (R-Luzerne/Lackawanna/Wyoming), Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon), Jordan Harris (D-Phila.), Christopher Rabb (D-Phila.), and Austin Davis (D-Allegheny).

AG ONE Newsletter March 5, 2018

PSCFO CONCLUDES FOOD SAFETY WORKSHOPS

On March 1, the last of four workshops was held in Bedford County to inform produce growers on how to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act’s regulatory requirements.  The other three were held in Tamaqua (Schuylkill County), Kutztown (Berks County), and Windsor (York County). Presenters were from the PA Department of Agriculture who walked growers through areas such as worker safety & hygiene, use of water, risk of animal contamination, and ways to avoid contamination during storage.  Statistically, 46% of food sickness incidents requiring medical treatment and/or hospitalization have been traced back to farms.

In addition to farmers, numbers of legislators and staff also attended.  Attending were legislators Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, Senator Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill), Reps. Gary Day and Dave Maloney (R-Berks), Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford), and Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar (R-Somerset/Bedford).  Staff represented the following legislators:  Rep. Judy Ward (R-Blair); Reps. Kristin Phillips-Hill and Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York); Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh); Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria/Bedford/Clearfield); and Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York), Majority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

DEPARTMENT & COMMODITY MARKETING

The PA Department of Agriculture announced March 3 that the PA Wine Marketing & Research Program Board is soliciting proposals on marketing and research projects to increase quality profitability, production and sale of wines.  Applications are due April 20, 2018 to PA Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Commodity Board Grant Program, 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, PA 17110.  Details: www.pabulletin.com

March 20, 2018 is the last postmarked date for referendum ballots on continuation of the PA Vegetable Marketing & Research Program to be submitted.  Eligible voters are vegetable producers who grew at least one acre of vegetables in 2017’s growing period or grew vegetables in greenhouses located in PA with total space of 1,000 square feet or more.  Voting began March 5.

AG DEPARTMENT PLANS SEVEN REGULATIONS

The PA Department of Agriculture plans to issue seven regulations in the first half of 2018:

  • Conservation Easement Program Contact: Douglas Wolfgang 717-783-3167
  • PA Preferred Contact: Laura England 717-783-8462
  • PA Vegetable Marketing Contact: Bill Troxell 717-694-3596
  • Rabies Prevention & Control Contact: Nanette Hanshaw, DVM 717-783-6677
  • Kennel Canine Health Contact: Kristin Donmoyer 717-705-8896
  • Weights, Standards & Measures Contact: Walt Remmert 717-787-6772
  • (Raw) Milk Sanitation             Contact: Lydia Johnson 717-787-4315

BUDGET HEARINGS CONCLUDE THIS WEEK

The annual House and Senate Appropriations Committee hearings on the State Budget conclude this week. Of key interest is the Governor’s Office and Office of the Budget on March 8 for both House and Senate Appropriations Committees where scrutiny may center on from where the revenue will come to fund the State Budget.  PA Cable Network (https://pcntv.com/schedule/ ) airs most of the hearings.  Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding testified before both committees.  Thanks to the Senate Majority Communications Office, following is a link to the Senate Appropriations hearing on February 28. https://pasen.wistia.com/medias/h86ncu5jfq The hearing touched on an array of topics ranging from hemp to the Farm Show lease-lease-back (equity loan).

POLITICS

  • Minority House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Bill Keller (D-Phila.) is not seeking re-election.  This means that both Majority and Minority Chairs of this committee will be new in 2019.
  • Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh)has dropped his congressional plans as did because of the PA Supreme Court imposed redistricting and is running for re-election.
  • Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) withdrew her bid for the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor and is now running for Congress in the redrawn 4th congressional district.

PA SPECIAL ELECTION GARNERS NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT

  • March 13 is the date of the special congressional election in southwest PA’s 18th district, pitting PA House Representative Rick Saccone (Republican) against Democrat Conor Lamb.  Saccone was elected to the PA House in 2010.  Lamb was an attorney with the Marines and former Assistant District Attorney in Pittsburgh during the Obama Administration.  This is seen as a referendum on Trump and GOP control of Congress.  Notables such as former Vice President Biden and President Trump are actively campaigning in the district.

USDA RENEWS CENSUS REQUEST

Even though the initial deadline was February 6, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) asks farmers who have not completed the Census of Agriculture to do so.  Please respond to www.agcounts.usda.gov or call King Whetstone at 717-787-3904 with questions.

FARM LINK PLANS SUCCESSION WORKSHOP in Chambersburg March 8.  The Farm Succession and Transition Workshop will help farmers to pass on the business to the next generation.  Farm Link and partner AgChoice Farm Credit are both PSCFO members.  Details: Michelle Kirk 717-705-2121  mkirk@pafarmlink.org

AG ONE Newsletter January 23, 2018

GENERAL ASSEMBLY RETURNS TO HARRISBURG

The PA General Assembly has resumed work in the New Year.  Advancing the spring agenda were two high-profile House Republican priorities:  a work requirement for non-disabled Medicaid recipients and regulatory reforms per a report issued by the Majority Chair of the House State Government Committee Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler).  Note that a principal target of the State Government Committee report is the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. Also on the House side, the House Appropriations Committee is continuing its hearings with various state agencies on the Special Funds they control.  Underlying these hearings is the conviction shared by many House Republicans that PA’s Special Funds could be utilized to help balance the State Budget instead of having tax increases or additional borrowing by the state.

On the Senate agenda for third consideration (passage) is Senate Bill 792 (Alloway-R-Franklin) relating to application of turf grass fertilizer.  Another Alloway bill on third consideration is Senate Bill 799.  It seeks to replace the current municipalities’ storm sewer systems (MS4s) compliance with Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction mandates with a private sector competitive bidding program.  Payment would come after Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) certifies nutrient reduction.

 LEGISLATOR UPDATES

  • Filling the term of her late husband Dan McNeill, Jeanne McNeill (D-Lehigh) was sworn in as Representative from the 133th district on January 2, 2018.  She was appointed to serve on House Environmental Resources & Energy, Game & Fisheries, Labor & Industry, and Local Government Committees.
  • Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington) is the newest Democratic member of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.  She, along with Republican Kristin Phillips-Hill (York) sponsored four bills targeting expansion of Broadband access for rural Pennsylvanians.  Rep. Phillips-Hill spoke at a Farm Show panel to which the video link follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0FPvXdYuP4&feature=youtu.be

PVGA OFFERS FUTURE OF AGRITOURISM EVENT 

Among programs offered by the PA Vegetable Growers’ Association at its annual conference in Hershey is a special program January 30 on the impact municipalities are having on agritourism.  Examined are conflicts between local ordinances and PA laws protecting normal farming activities: The Right to Farm Act; Agricultural Area Security Law; Municipalities Planning Code; Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act (Clean and Green); Farmland Preservation / Conservation Easement programs.  Presenting will be Extension’s John Berry and former Deputy Attorney General Susan Bucknam.  Details: John Berry, johnberry@psu.edu, 610.554.2561 (Thanks to January 20, 2018 PVGA Update newsletter)

FEBRUARY FSMA WORKSHOPS SCHEDULED

The Pennsylvania State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) in cooperation with the PA Department of Agriculture will be holding community service seminars on February 26, 2018 in Windsor (York County) and March 1, 2018, in Bedford to inform farmers/agriculture producers about their compliance requirements under the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Material is directed at vegetable/produce growers.  It will also cover elements of a farm risk management plan which includes food safety, Crop Insurance, and information on what to ask an insurance agent to make sure that farmers’ insurance needs are met.  These two workshops mark the third and fourth of the series presented by the PA Department of Agriculture and the PA State Council of Farm Organizations.  The others were held in Tamaqua (Schuylkill County) and Kutztown (Berks County).  For more information, please contact Vince Phillips at PSCFO 717-232-9665, xenobun@aol.com or Lynn Herman at 814-880-2272, lherman77@comcast.net.

REGULATORY NOTE:  Comments on DEP proposed changes to the General Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (PAG-12) are due by February 20, 2018.  Among other changes would be using a crop year October 1 – September 30 instead of a calendar year.  Details: https://pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol48/48-3/115.html

 MORE SCHOLARSHIPS

  • (Due February 1) America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders program sponsored by the Monsanto Fund is accepting applications from those 23 years of age or younger who are enrolled in trade schools or college.  Details: www.GrowAgLeaders.com
  • PA Association of Environmental Professionals is offering scholarships to students pursuing an environmental science or related major degree.  (Due February 5)  Details: Kristin Aiosa kaiosa@jmt.com
  • PA Vegetable Growers Association Rudolph Grob Memorial Scholarship applicants must be enrolled in at least a two-year program and be child or grandchild to a PVGA member.  (Due March 31) Details: 717-694-3596 https://www.pvga.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/g-ldr-rec-scholarship-application-17.pdf
  • Open to high school seniors living in Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wayne and Pike Counties who will major in fish, game or wildlife management, forestry, environmental planning and related fields is a scholarship offered by the Northeast PA Audubon Society.  (Due April 30)  Details: http://www.nepaaudubon.org/?s=college+scholarships
  • Angus Foundation is offering scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students.  Applicants must have an active membership in the American Angus Association.  (Due May 1) Details: Milford Jenkins 816-383-5100; mjenkins@angusfoundation.org

AG ONE Newsletter April 6, 2017

HOUSE REPUBLICAN BUDGET ADVANCES TO SENATE

By a 114-84 vote April 4, the PA House voted to send the Republican-crafted State Budget Bill to the PA Senate.  There were four Republicans voting no on House Bill 218: Representatives DiGirolamo (Bucks), McGinnis (Blair), Harper (Montgomery), and Hennessey (Chester).  No Democrats voted for HB 218.  Following is a comparison between the present fiscal year, what Governor Wolf originally proposed in February, and what House Bill 218 seeks to do.

PA Department of Agriculture

Budget Line Item                                FY 2016-17        Governor                  House Bill 218

General Government Operations          29.379 million   31.612 million           29,557 million

Centers for Excellence                        1.21 million       0                                1.029 million

Food Market Coupons                         2.079 million     2.079 million             2.079 million

Ag Research                                      1.687 million     0                                0

Ag Promotion, Education, Exports       250,000             0                                0

Hardwoods Research & Promotion      385,000             0                                328,000

Livestock Show                                 195,000             0                                0

Open Dairy Show                              195,000             0                                0

Youth Shows                                     154.000             154,000                     131,000

Food Purchases                                 19.188 million  19.188 million            19.188 million

Transfer Nutrient Fund                       2.714 million     2.714 million             2.307 million

Transfer Conservation Districts           869,000             869,000                     739,000

Land Scrip (PSU Ag Research/Ext.)     51.813 million   51.813 million           51.813 million

PA Preferred                                      605,000             605,000                     514,000

UPenn Vet School                              30.135 million   0                                0

Department of Environmental Protection budget in HB 218 includes $2.13 million transferred to the Conservation District Fund and $2.423 million for Chesapeake Bay Agriculture Source Management.

COMING UP

  • On April 17, there will be a joint hearing of three House committees (Human Services, Aging & Older Adult Services, and Health) on Governor Wolf’s proposed consolidation of four separate Cabinet departments into one Department of Health & Human Services.  There has already been strong backlash from Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) who led a well-attended rally April 5 of supporters of the PA Dept. of Drug & Alcohol Programs.  Dept. of Aging advocates have also weighed in, fearing a dilution of the Commonwealth’s commitment to seniors if the Aging Dept. is absorbed.
  • On May 3, the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee will hold a hearing at the University of Pittsburgh, Bradford, on issues related to the forest products industry.
  • On May 10 in Harrisburg, the same committee will hear from PDA Secretary Russell Redding on budget and other priorities of the PA Department of Agriculture.

APPLE MARKETING ORDER

On April 4, the Agriculture Department issued a release stating that PA apple growers may vote on the “Pennsylvania Apple Program”.  This replaces the terminated PA Apple Marketing Program.  Eligible growers are those with 500-plus apple trees.  The proposed program has a grower assessment of five cents per bushel with an estimated $200,000 – $250,000 in revenue which would be used to fund U.S. Apple Association membership, apple research, consumer education, and program administration.  PDA must receive ballots by April 21. Details: www.pennsylvaniaapples.org/about/board-staff

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

  • Sunday Falconry Hunting (Senate Bill 123 (Scavello-R-Monroe) passed the Senate 47-0.
  • Structures used in maple sugar operations would be exempted from building requirements of the Universal Construction Code (UCC) per House Bill 177 which passed the House 196-0.

USDA NASS SEEKS AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION HELP

The National Agricultural Statistics Service issued a plea for agricultural groups to actively partner with NASS in urging farmers to participate in the 2017 Census of Agriculture, a survey that will be forthcoming in December of this year.  Even though the request comes early, Regional Director King Whetstone says that support in promoting the Census is critical to its success.  He notes that the Census is taken every five years and provides a basis for various Federal program resources and activities to be apportioned.  It also provides base yield data to help farmers receive an accurate Crop Insurance payment should a claim be filed.  Details: 717-787-3904, www.agcensus.usda.gov

NASS ISSUES PLANTING FORECASTS

On April 3, NASS issued prospective planting numbers for Pennsylvania.  It projects a three-percent increase in soybeans from last year, 18% increase for barley, five-percent increase for winter wheat, seven-percent increase for hay, and no change in planted acres for oats.  Decreased acreage is forecast for corn (down two percent) and tobacco (down one percent).

POLITICAL NOTE…

Phila. Democrat Emilio Vazguez won a special election in the 197th district.

Politics

Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for Attorney General. He joins Senator John Rafferty (R-Montgomery).

After resigning July 22 as Governor Wolf’s Chief of Staff, Katie McGinty is running for the Democratic nomination for US Senate. If she wins the primary against former US Rep. Joe Sestak, she will face off against incumbent Republican Pat Toomey.

Special election results: There were special House elections held August 4 in Cumberland and Delaware Counties and August 11 in Philadelphia. The net outcome was a gain of one seat for Democrats although Republicans still have a sizable majority.
– Cumberland County (succeeding Republican Glen Grell) Greg Rothman (R)
– Delaware County (succeeding Republican Joe Hackett ) Leanne Krueger-Branekey (D)
– Philadelphia (succeeding Democrat Michelle Brownlee) Donna Bullock (D)
– Philadelphia (succeeding Democrat Ron Waters) Joanne McClinton (D)
– Philadelphia (succeeding Democrat John Sabatina) Ed Neilson (D)