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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Farm Bill Takes Shape

Sunday, May 12, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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CapitolHARRISBURG - In February, Governor Wolf, as part of his 2019-2020 budget proposal included $24 million for what he dubbed, the “Pennsylvania Farm Bill.”

The Pennsylvania Farm Bill, or what will be a set of several bills, sets out six major areas for emphasis:

  1. Agricultural business development and succession planning
  2. Creating more processing capabilities to accommodate a growing animal agriculture sector
  3. Removing regulatory burdens and strengthening the state’s business climate
  4. Strengthening Pennsylvania’s workforce to ensure the next generation is prepared to lead
  5. Protecting agriculture infrastructure
  6. Increasing market opportunities and making Pennsylvania the nation’s leading organic state

Click here to download a copy of the Governor’s Office press release on the Pennsylvania Farm Bill.

Senate Democrats Introduce Several Elements of the Pa. Farm Bill

Last week, Sens. Judy Schwank (D-Berks), John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) and Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) introduced four bills that would implement elements of the Governor’s farm bill.

  • The first bill (SB 623) would establish the Pennsylvania Preferred Organic Program
  • The second measure (SB 624) would exempt beginning farmers from paying the realty transfer tax on the purchase of a farm preserved under the Farmland Preservation Program.   
  • The third bill (SB 622) would increase tax credits offered through the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Program for implementing best management practices to $3 million. The bill would also raise the lifetime cap to $250,000 from the current $150,000 per operation.
  • And the fourth bill (SB 627) would provide grants to improve agriculture and increase market opportunities.

Senate Republicans Introduce “Farming First” Package of Bills

Not to be outdone, Senate Republicans introduced a package of seven bills that they are calling “Farming First.” Two of the bills address agri-tourism (SB 453 and SB 583), two address dairy issues (SB 585 and SB 588), one provides a tax credit for helping beginning farmers (SB 478), one addresses farm succession (SB 145) and the last addresses transportation of farm equipment (SB 338).

Hopefully, at some point, the parties will get together and work out a set of bills that they all agree to, share the credit and send them on to the Governor for signature.

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