Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release: April 23, 2018
(Camp Hill) – Pennsylvania farmers, who use high tunnels to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, will no longer face the burden of having to meet state regulations intended for commercial and residential development now that Governor Wolf has signed House Bill 1486. The new law, which was a priority issue for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) in 2018, prevents municipalities from requiring farmers to submit stormwater management plans on high tunnel structures that meet the law’s commonsense and easily understood guidelines.
“This is a victory for farmers across the Commonwealth, who are helping to meet increased consumer demand for locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “High tunnel structures, which are also called hoophouses, clearly should not be required to meet the same regulatory standards as permanent commercial office buildings or housing developments.”
Farm Bureau notes that there has been an increased interest among farmers to utilize high tunnels to extend the growing season for the food they produce, but many farmers held off assembling the temporary structures due to uncertainty over how they would be regulated and the cost, time and paperwork involved in meeting stormwater management standards.
“The overall cost of putting together a stormwater management plan for a high tunnel structure would have likely eliminated or significantly negated the profitability of using the high tunnel in the first place,” added Ebert. “The new law should remove those obstacles and benefit local consumers.”
PFB recognized Representative Dave Zimmerman of Lancaster County, who sponsored the legislation in the House, and Senators Scott Martin, Ryan Aument and Gene Yaw for building support for the bill in the Senate.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with more than 62,000 member families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.