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Reasonable and Uniform Standards for Agricultural Building Construction and Farm Market and Agritourism Enterprises

Families operating small to mid-sized farms in Pennsylvania are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their farms economically viable by just continuing to operate their farms and farm property the same way as in the past.  Many farmers are looking to improve farm productivity or engage in direct marketing or agritourism enterprises in order to get additional income they need for their family.  But the far-reaching regulation of land use and building construction imposed through local zoning, land development and construction ordinances and the bureaucracy and cost involved in obtaining approval of local projects make it extremely difficult for farm families to improve farm productivity or to participate in farm marketing and agritourism enterprises.

While some standards need to be established to give the public some assurance that facilities supporting agricultural, farm marketing and agritourism enterprises will be built, operated and maintained in a safe manner, a reasonable balance needs to be struck to allow farm families to pursue other opportunities on the farm to sustain the family’s livelihood.

Proposed legislation contained in the Family Farm Initiative and Enterprise Land Development (FIELD) Act, Senate Bill 899, would help farm families engage in construction of agricultural buildings and in farm marketing and agritourism enterprises needed to maintain viability of the family’s farm without compromising public safety or responsible management.  The bill would create the Farm Enterprise Standards Board within the Department of Agriculture, whose responsibility would be to establishment minimum standards that farm families must meet in construction of agricultural buildings and engagement of farm marketing and agritourism enterprises on family farms.  Families who meet these standards will be relieved of burdens to receive local governmental approval for their construction or enterprise.

Farm Bureau urges support for passage of legislation in Senate Bill 899 to provide for the development of uniform minimum standards to facilitate affordable construction of agricultural buildings on family farms and provide meaningful opportunity for families to engage in direct marketing and agritourism enterprises on the farm to sustain the farm’s economic viability.