Senate and House Republican leaders highlighted a broad package of bills today that are intended to support Pennsylvania farmers and encourage new generations of farmers to continue the state’s rich agricultural heritage.
A number of the measures in the package were championed by Senate Republicans as part of the Farming First initiative, which was announced in May. Additional measures were advanced by House Republicans, and components of the governor’s PA Farm Bill are also included.
Bills in the package that are sponsored by Senate Republicans include:
- SB 478, sponsored by Senator Elder Vogel (R-47), would establish a tax credit program for landowners to lease or sell farmland to future generations of farmers.
- SB 661, sponsored by Senator Judy Ward (R-30), would create a number of new programs to support the agriculture community, including the Agricultural Business Development Center, Agriculture and Youth Development Grants, the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program, and the Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
- SB 585, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34), would create the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to review and make recommendations to promote and strengthen the Commonwealth’s dairy industry.
- SB 338, sponsored by Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), would update Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code to allow the transportation of farm equipment that exceeds the current width allowable by law.
- SB 634, sponsored by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), would create the Conservation Excellence Grant Program to provide technical and financial assistance for agricultural operations to implement conservation best management practices.
Other bills in the package include:
- HB 370, sponsored by Representative Kate Klunk (R-169), which would amend the Agricultural Area Security Law to allow farmers more discretion regarding the construction and subdivision of residences on preserved farmland.
- HB 915, sponsored by Representative Martin Causer (R-67), which would exempt milk haulers from travel bans put in place during inclement weather and other emergency declarations.
- HB 1514, sponsored by Representative John Hershey (R-82), which would renames the current Healthy Farms Healthy Schools program as the Farm-to-School Program and make improvements to the program.
- HB 1516, sponsored by Causer, which would create the Agriculture Rapid Response Disaster Readiness program to respond to diseases, pests, invasive species, declared disasters and other threats to the agriculture industry.
- HB 1520, sponsored by Representative Pam Snyder (D-50), which would create the Very Small Meat Processor Federal Inspection Reimbursement Grant Program to help these businesses comply with federal inspection standards.
- HB 1526, sponsored by Representative Rich Irvin (R-81), which would revise the Agriculture Linked Investment Program for the implementation of agricultural and conservation best management practices.
- HB 1590, sponsored by Representative Clint Owlett (R-68), which would establish the existing Dairy Investment Program in state law to support research and development, transition to organic, marketing projects and value-added process projects in the dairy industry.