(HARRISBURG) – The state Senate passed three measures today that would protect dairy farmers and encourage agritourism activities in Pennsylvania, according to Senator Jake Corman (R-34).
Senate Bill 819 makes certain agritourism activities such as farm tours, hay rides and corn mazes are permitted on farms that are part of the state’s farmland preservation program. Some county farmland preservation boards prohibit farm owners from offering agritourism activities, however, this bill establishes a uniform standard across the state to allow farmers to take advantage of the growing popularity of agritourism, regardless of their location.
“Agritourism activities are popular with farmers who are looking to supplement their income and well-liked for families looking for fun outdoor activities,” Corman said. “This bill provides consistency for famers throughout the state while protecting their farmland preservation status as they host these educational and entertaining events.”
The Senate also approved two resolutions designed to protect the dairy industry. Senate Resolution 382 urges the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent misleading labeling of non-dairy products. Senate Resolution 384 directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and issue a report making recommendations for initiatives to assist Pennsylvania dairy producers.
“Dairy farming and growth in agriculture needs to be a priority,” Corman said, who has previously called on the Governor to develop an incentive plan for a dairy processing plant to locate in Pennsylvania. “Supporting the agriculture community in Pennsylvania takes action. Helping farmers thrive means our local economies can grow and succeed. Protecting our milk supply also is a matter of national security.”
The dairy industry supports 52,000 jobs and contributes $14.7 billion to the state’s economy. Pennsylvania is fifth in the nation for milk production. Dairy farmers face low prices for milk, increasing production costs and a market where supply outpaces demand. Dairy prices have decreased 40 percent from about $25 per hundredweight in milk in 2014 (100 pounds or 11.6 gallons of milk) to about $15.
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