Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
510 S. 31st Street , Camp Hill, PA 17001 • 717.761.2740• Email • @pfbmediaone
For Immediate Release: June 27, 2019
(Camp Hill) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) praised members of the state General Assembly and Governor Wolf for supporting a state budget and a bipartisan “Pennsylvania Farm Bill” legislative package that should help farmers better cope with challenges threatening their livelihoods, while creating new opportunities for a brighter future in agriculture.
“The legislative package addresses some priority issues that Farm Bureau has been advocating for over the past few years,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “It offers new approaches to overcoming hurdles and creates opportunities for farmers and the agriculture industry to prosper.”
One of the key bills pushed by Senator Elder Vogel is designed to help young farmers gain access to farmland by providing a tax credit to landowners, who rent or sell their land to beginning farmers.
“The lack of affordable farmland to rent or buy is often listed as the number one reason why young people do not pursue careers in farming. We are hopeful that this new tax credit program will create more opportunities for Pennsylvania agriculture and inspire the next generation of farmers in the state,” added Ebert.
Meanwhile, a visit to a Legislative Farm Tour hosted by the Cambria County Farm Bureau was the inspiration for legislation spearheaded by Senator Wayne Langerholc. The bill changes the state vehicle code to allow farm equipment of up to 18 feet in width to travel on roadways under certain safety conditions.
Other bills included in the legislative package (which the Governor is expected to sign into law) will provide additional conservation funding through grants and low interest loans, assistance in writing business and succession plans, an increase in funding to address agriculture threats, such the spotted lanternfly, and the creation of a new dairy commission to study current trends in Pennsylvania’s dairy industry. The commission has several goals, such as identifying ways to help create more opportunities for struggling dairy farmers to become profitable and to bolster the sales of Pennsylvania milk and dairy products.
Meanwhile, the state agriculture budget includes increases in funding for several vital programs, including agriculture research and Cooperative Extension programs administered by Penn State, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and agriculture excellence programs. Farm Bureau also appreciates new funding for Agriculture Department programs, such as $4.5 million for the Agricultural Business and Workforce Investment program, an additional $2 million for the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission and $1 million for the Livestock and Consumer Health Protection program.
In addition, an exemption from sales tax for materials and supplies purchased for the construction or repair of an animal housing facility is included in a Tax Code bill accompanying the state budget. Several beneficial changes to the REAP program are also a part of the tax bill, including express recognition that costs for activities in completing conservation plans and manure management plans are eligible for REAP tax credits and an increase in the yearly maximum level of REAP credits from $10 million to $13 million, with the State Conservation Commission having the authority to target $3 million in tax credits for best management practices in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
“We believe the heavy focus on agriculture this year is a recognition by the General Assembly and the Governor that a prosperous farming community is essential to the economic health of rural communities and the state’s economy. The new programs and increased funding for other programs come at a time when many farmers have struggled to stay in business after five consecutive years of depressed prices,” concluded Ebert.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization,
representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.