Harrisburg, PA – Senate Republicans passed seven bills that they say would help current and future generations of Pennsylvania farmers.
They say the “Farming First” package is designed to build on the longstanding efforts of Senate Republicans to support Pennsylvania’s farm families and maintain agriculture’s status as the state’s top industry.
Bills in the package that were approved earlier this week included:
- A tax credit program for landowners to lease or sell farmland to future generations of farmers.
- The creation of the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to bring together all stakeholders in the industry.
- Exempting milk haulers from weather-related travel bans.
- Easing restrictions on the use of farmland for farm-related tourism and entertainment activities.
- Setting commonsense safety standards and removing costly requirements for barn weddings and other social events on farms.
Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25) talks about the bills.
Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-35) talks about the bills.
The Senate approved two additional bills in the package.
Senate Bill 145, sponsored by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), would allow farmers more discretion regarding the construction and subdivision of residences on farmland. Current law allows farmers to create one additional farmstead residence, but it does not allow farmers to relinquish this right or to subdivide an existing residence on their property. The change would make it easier to pass farmland on to the next generation at a lower cost.
Senate Bill 338, sponsored by Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-35), would update Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code to allow the transportation of farm equipment that exceeds the current width allowable by law. The measure is critical for farm owners because the size of equipment used for specialized commercial services – such as custom harvesting, planting and hauling – has increased as the equipment has become more technologically advanced.
Pennsylvania’s 59,000 farm families manage more than 7.7 million acres of farmland. The agriculture industry generates more than $7.5 billion in cash receipts annually.
Senate Republicans led the fight last year to create the Pennsylvania Dairy Industry Investment Program, which is designed to improve the production, processing and distribution of dairy items throughout the state.
Over the past four years, Senate Republicans have also worked to restore a cumulative total of more than $15 million in cuts proposed by Governor Wolf to critical programs supporting the agriculture community, including livestock and open dairy shows, food marketing and research, hardwoods research and promotion, agricultural research and Agricultural Excellence.