REDDING TAKES AIM AT HOUSE BILL 218
At a May 10 hearing of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding warned legislators that the House Republican State Budget bill (House Bill 218) could endanger a number of core PDA functions:
- A $2 million cut from what Governor Wolf proposed in February
- Losing 21 positions in areas such as restaurant health and safety inspections
- $407,000 less for the Nutrient Management Fund, leaving the fund in a deficit position by mid-2019
- Conservation district cuts ($130,000 from PDA and $376,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection budget) could force districts to cut positions and services.
Secretary Redding also sent a letter to the General Assembly stating much of what was in his May 10 testimony, a link to which follows: http://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Pages/Letter-to-Legislature.aspx
REAL ID PROGRESSING
On May 10, Senate Bill 133 (Ward-R-Westmoreland) was referred to the House Appropriations Committee after a contentious session of the House State Government Committee which amended the bill along party lines May 8. This legislation brings PA into compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005, a Federal law requiring an upgrade to state systems of personal identification. If PA does not comply with legislation in June, the consequence is that a driver’s license will NOT be accepted as identification on boarding commercial flights or providing access to Federal offices (Social Security, Farm Services Agency, military bases, etc.) in 2018. The issue was an amendment in the House State Government Committee creating a two-tier system which allows Pennsylvanians to keep and use current ID if they choose. Anyone going for the upgrade would have to pay for it, cost unknown.
POLLINATOR ISSUES SUBJECT OF STATE FORUM
On May 22, the Joint Legislative Conservation Committee will hold an Environmental Issues Forum in Harrisburg to profile Pennsylvania’s bee decline and its impact on agriculture. For example, PA fruit crops depend on pollination with over 90% of the apple crop relying on honeybees. The session will also look at ways to reverse the bees’ decline. Details: Mike Nerozzi 717-787-7570, email@example.com
OTHER LEGISLATION OF INTEREST
- Fair Dealership Act legislation was introduced by Rep. Will Tallman (R-Cumberland/Adams). House Bill 1348 is the top priority of PSCFO member Northeast Equipment Dealers Association. The group argues that the bill is necessary to ensure accessibility to equipment options for agriculture producers. On May 14, the PA State Council of Farm Organizations wrote to House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Majority Chair Martin Causer (R-McKean/Potter/Cameron) and Minority Chair Eddie Day Pashinski (D-Luzerne) asking for prompt committee consideration of the legislation.
- New Senator John DiSanto’s (R-Dauphin/Perry) first major legislation was reported out by the Senate Rules Committee May 8. Senate Bill 561 gives the General Assembly veto power over any regulation with an economic impact to the Commonwealth, its’ units of government, or the private sector exceeding one million dollars. The legislative language suggests that Notices in the PA Bulletin, a less formal way to implementing policies, would not be governed by this bill. Often, an agency will use Notices to inform as to its policy or change in policy.
GAME COMMISSION PROPOSES RULES
On May 13, the PA Game Commission published several proposed rules in the May 13 PA Bulletin, the links to which follow: Hunting and trapping; general ; Lands and buildings—special wildlife management areas; hunting and furtaker licenses—antlerless deer licenses ; Special permits; deer control
APPLE GROWERS ADOPT APPLE PROGRAM
Announced by the PA Department of Agriculture May 6 were results from an April referendum as to whether PA should reinstitute its Apple Program. The vote was 103 producers for and 48 against with six ballots ruled ineligible. Link to the text of the Program Order follows: http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol47/47-18/770.html
FSMA/RISK MANAGEMENT SEMINAR in TAMAQUA JUNE 1st
In conjunction with Schuylkill County’s legislative delegation and with financial support from the PA Department of Agriculture, the PA State Council of Farm Organizations is offering a no-cost seminar on Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance to produce farmers in the region. Held June 1 in Tamaqua, It will 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. Details: 717-232-9665, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to PSCFO members such as PA Vegetable Growers Association, PA State Grange, PA Association of Conservation Districts, PennAG Industries Association, MidAtlantic Farm Credit, and others for helping spread the word. Also, PSCFO member PA Farmers Union is planning FSMA compliance webinars. Details: www.pafarmersnion.org