Growing PA Agriculture Pennsylvania's #1 industry, agriculture, has been a significant focus for Pennsylvania House Republicans this session. The Pennsylvania Legislature has passed a comprehensive package of bills that will help Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry grow and thrive. Act 34 of 2019 • Establishes the PA Farm-to-School Program to provide grants to educate pre-kindergartners through fifth-graders, and their families, about the importance of choosing healthy, locally produced foods; and increase awareness of Pennsylvania agriculture. It replaces an existing grant program with a similar mission. Act 35 of 2019 • Creates the Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account to ensure the Commonwealth can respond quickly to agricultural disasters, including using animal or plant health officials to contain an outbreak or threat, or providing an immediate response to a foodborne illness. Act 39 of 2019 • Creates the Conservation Excellence Program, granting the State Conservation Commission the authority to prioritize projects and provide technical assistance and funding through a mix of grants, low-interest loans and tax credits to help farmers and landowners implement conservation best management practices. Act 40 of 2019 • Provides for state-level Specialty Crop Block Grants to encourage investing in and farming of high-priority crops that are not eligible for the federal grant program. • Establishes the Pennsylvania Agricultural Business Development Center to serve as a resource to help every farmer create a business plan, transition plan or succession plan, helping to ensure farm operations continue to thrive through ownership changes. • Reestablishes the former Agriculture and Rural Youth Development Program into a new grant program to fund youth organizations that promote development in agriculture, community leadership, vocational training and peer fellowship. • Establishes an Urban Agricultural Infrastructure Grant Program that provides reimbursement to an individual who implements a project to improve agriculture infrastructure in urban areas that focuses on aggregation of agricultural products, sharing resources and supporting community development resource. Act 36 of 2019 • Creates a grant program to reimburse federal meat inspection costs for small or new processors. • Encourages veterans to participate in the PA Preferred and Homegrown by Heroes program to market their veteran-produced commodities. Act 37 of 2019 • Reestablishes a low-interest loan program administered by the State Conservation Commission in conjunction with lending institutions for the implementation of agricultural and conservation best management practices. Act 33 of 2019 • Clarifies subdivision requirements within the Agriculture Area Security Law. Act 28 of 2019 • Increases the allowable width for farm equipment on roads in the Commonwealth. Act 38 of 2019 • Creates the Dairy Investment Program under the Commonwealth Financing Authority to set guidelines and provide grants to support the dairy industry. Act 65 of 2019 • Establishes a tax credit program for existing farmers and landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers. Act 66 of 2019 • Creates the Dairy Future Commission to review and make recommendations to promote and strengthen the state’s diary industry. House Bill 915 • Creates an exemption for milk trucks to allow them to travel during weather-related commercial vehicle travel bans in the Commonwealth. This legislation was vetoed by the Governor. Ag Highlights in the 2019-20 Pennsylvania State Budget • Overall investment in agriculture increases by $19.5 million or 12.7%. • Recognizing the importance of animal health, new line items devote $2 million to the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission and $1 million to livestock and consumer health protection. • Restores funding for programs eliminated by the governor’s proposal, including agricultural research; agricultural promotion, education and exports; hardwoods research and promotion; and the livestock and open dairy shows.