Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release: May 10, 2019
(Camp Hill) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is pleased that a package of bills designed to create more opportunities and reduce obstacles for farm families has passed the state Senate, including a bill that would provide incentives to landowners to rent or sell their property to beginning farmers.
“Three major challenges facing Pennsylvania farmers are prohibitive regulations, financial obstacles that make it difficult to earn a living and access to land for young farmers trying to break into the business,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “The enactment of these bills should provide some help in tackling those problems.”
Senate Bill 478 would provide a state income tax credit of 5% of the sale price of farm assets sold or 10% of total rental income received from assets rented to beginning farmers. Tax credits on farm assets sold would be capped at $32,000, and credits on farm assets rented would be capped at $7,000 per year and would not extend beyond the first three years of the lease agreement. Senator Elder Vogel’s bill would create a clear incentive for landowners to rent or sell farmland to people wanting to pursue a career in farming.
Senate Bill 585, which is sponsored by Senator Jake Corman, would create the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission. The Commission would be tasked with coming up with recommendations on how Pennsylvania can improve the dairy industry, such as helping farmers create value-added processing, increasing the overall consumption of dairy products, attracting new processing facilities and other ideas to help the state’s struggling dairy industry.
Under Senate Bill 588, milk haulers would be allowed to pick up milk from farms and transport it to processing facilities during weather-related commercial travel bans. The bill, which was introduced by Senator Judy Ward, notes the targeted exemption is needed due to the highly perishable nature of fluid milk.
Senate Bill 145 would amend the Agricultural Area Security Law to provide more flexibility for landowners who own a preserved farm. Currently, state law allows the creation of one additional farmstead residence on preserved farms, but some farmers who do not want to exercise this option would rather waive that right to reduce the value of their land, and ultimately, reduce property taxes.
Senate Bill 583, introduced by Senator Ryan Aument, would amend the state farmland preservation program to recognize in law that agritourism enterprises may be performed on preserved farms. The bill would establish a uniform definition and standard for the type of agritourism enterprises authorized on preserved farms. Currently, county preservation boards can establish different standards for permitted and prohibited agritourism enterprises. Creating a uniform definition would provide farmers needing to generate supplemental income from their farms much clearer guidance on the type of agritourism enterprises they may utilize.
Senate Bill 338 would amend the state’s Vehicle Code by expanding the maximum width allowance for farm machinery from 16 feet to 18 feet. Senator Wayne Langerholc sponsored the bill, which is needed to accommodate changes of modern farm equipment. The wider vehicles are typically operated during planting and harvest seasons and must meet safety standards, such as using flashing lights, escort vehicles and signs.
“Pennsylvania farmers are hopeful that these positive bills will swiftly be approved in the House and sent to Governor Wolf for his signature,” added Ebert.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.