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

PSCFO Meeting Postponed until October 27

PSCFO meetingHARRISBURG – The PA State Council of Farm Organizations meeting for the fall has been re-set to October 27 with a Board meeting at 11:00 a.m. (NOTE: This is a change.) and the Council meeting at its regular time of 1:00 p.m.  Location is the PA Department of Agriculture, 2301 Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110.

Topics to be discussed by the Council include:

  • Invasive Species (Feral Hogs)
  • EPA proposed definition of Water Rule
  • Update on Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Rule.

Additionally, since for all purposes, the legislative session will be over October 15, expect interesting conversation on what the 2013-14 session of the General Assembly meant for PA Agriculture.  Please RSVP to 717/232-9665 or to Manager@PSCFO.com by October 17 regarding your plans to attend.

Secretary Greig Invites PSCFO to Town Meeting

greig_official-300x250HARRISBURG – On August 14 at 10:00 a.m. in the Red Barn, PDA Secretary Greig has invited members of the Pa. State Council of Farm Organizations to participate in a Town Hall meeting. This will be an open dialogue between the Department and attendees.

Among other things, discussions will include FDA regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), implementation of the Farm Bill, the PDA Budget for the state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014, and a host of other regulatory topics.

Other topics of interest to PSCFO members such as the EPA’s proposed water definition and the feral hog issue may also be addressed.

RSVPs are needed because of limited seating.  Ben Junkin 717/787-5789, bejunkin@pa.gov

PSCFO Annual Meeting Re-Cap

Elections:

Re-elected were officers Brian Snyder (PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture) as President, Eugene Richard (Mushroom Farmers of PA) as Vice President, and Jeff Nogan (PA Cattlemen’s Association) as Secretary-Treasurer. Re-elected was Gregg Robertson (PA Landscape & Nursery Association) to a second term.

Two new Board members are:

  • Carl Meiss (PA State Grange)
  • Hannah Smith- Brubaker (PA Farmers’ Union)

In other actions:

  • Briefings from PDA confirmed that the FDA proposed Food Safety Rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act would be re-drafted by the Federal agency in great part because of advocacy by PDA, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and farm groups such as PA Vegetable Growers Association, PA Farm Bureau, PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and PSCFO. There is a separate animal feed regulation also being considered by FDA and PennAg briefed the Board and Council on what it seeks to do. One issue is that a farm is defined as a facility which means that the Food and drug Administration would have authority to inspect and impose sanctions on almost every PA farm.
  • The Cornucopia Taste of PA Reception drew a record number of exhibitors from farm groups and a record number of approximately 100 legislators.

The annual meeting of the PSCFO in Harrisburg resulted in significant front-page publicity in Lancaster Farming magazine. http://www.lancasterfarming.com/-State-Ag-Council-Celebrates-Political-Trifecta-#.U0-1VKKg4k_ This underscores the increased visibility and advocacy of PSCFO and it is something of which we all can all be proud.

Regulatory Update for April 2014

• On April 12, the PDA published rules under the Food Safety Act and Food
Employee Certification Act to regulate the certifications of food employees. In
the process, outside government comments were received from the PA Catholic
Conference and PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture. Details:
http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol44/44-15/762.html

• PDA published a proposed Rule that would allow it to contract with other
agencies or vendors to administer pesticide applicators’ examinations in addition
to the monthly PDA exams. These outside entities would be able to charge a fee
for this service. The proposed Rule has been sent to the House and Senate
Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees for review.