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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

PDA begins Stakeholder Meetings on Fertilizer Bill

Monday, August 14, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) began meetings with stakeholders last week to develop amendments to the surprise fertilizer bill introduced by Senator Alloway (R-Franklin County) in mid-June. PLNA was the first among the stakeholder groups to meet with PDA.

Background

After negotiations that had taken place over several years, involving scores of stakeholders and legislative staff, there was general agreement on draft fertilizer bill language.  However, on June 15 Senator Alloway, whose staff had been involved the negotiations on the bill language, introduced S.B. 792 including language that had not been agreed to by any of the stakeholders or the PDA.

One of the major changes to the bill was the elimination of language that set fertilizer application rates based on best scientific research.  The bill introduced by Alloway sets hard numbers for fertilizer application rates so that future changes could only be made by action of the General Assembly.  According to turf grass specialists at Penn State, the application rates in the legislation are not based on the best scientific research available. The move surprised PDA and the stakeholders who had been involved in the process.

The bill then was rushed through the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee two legislative days after it was introduced, without any hearings, giving PLNA and other stakeholders little time to react.  PLNA did manage to get an extensive list of its concerns to the Agriculture committee, just hours before the committee vote.  The bill was approved by the committee without amendment on June 19.  The bill was rereferred to the Senate Appropriations Committee in July where it awaits further action.

Why This Matters

·   PLNA has expressed three major concerns with this fertilizer legislation:

o   The legislation will not improve water quality and may even worsen it, according to a report issued in 2013 by EPA.

o   The legislation, if enacted, will cost the industry millions in direct costs, record keeping overhead and lost employee time.

o   The Chesapeake Bay Commission CBC, which is pushing this legislation hard (Senator Alloway is on the CBC), and the Chesapeake Bay Program at EPA is slated to be eliminated by the Trump Administration.

What’s Happening Now

  PDA has completed meetings with most stakeholders as of last week, including PLNA. The new draft bill language developed by PDA with stakeholder involvement conforms largely to the language agreed to last winter.  Click here to see an e-News article that outlines the basics of the draft language.  Application rates in the new draft agreed-to language could be modified by PDA regulation as technology and science evolve. There are no specific application rates in the draft bill.

 PLNA has met with Senator Alloway’s staff and Senate Ag Committee staff to express our concerns with the legislation. With the General Assembly on their summer break, except for some unfinished budget business, PLNA does not expect much action on the bill until fall.

How You Can Help

Now is the time for you to contact your state Senator and express your concerns about SB 792. Click here to send an email to your state Senator while the Senate is on their summer break.  Or better yet, go see them in their home office.


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