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Dear Friends, 

The Senate and House are in recess until March 11th for budget hearings.  See House and Senate schedules for the hearing dates. 

Jeff Graybill from the Penn State Extension Service in Lancaster County sent a notice of a pond workshop set for March 2, 2013 at the Lancaster County Farm and Home Center. 

Lastly, the PA Department of Agriculture will be accepting proposals for the specialty crops block grant until February 28th

Call us anytime for help. 

Have a good week.



Articles of Interest



The Department of Agriculture advised it is time for another review referendum to determine whether a majority of the vegetable producers desire the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program to continue. The referendum period shall be from March 4, 2013, until 4 p.m. on March 18, 2013. Completed ballots shall be mailed or hand-delivered to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Market Development, Room 310, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110-9408.



The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Food Distribution advised the application period for grants under the Direct Farm Sales Grant Program Phase II has begun and will run through March 29, 2013. Completed applications should be addressed to or delivered to the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Food Distribution, Direct Farm Sales Grant Program, 2301 North Cameron Street, Room 401, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408. For more information visit or contact Sandy Hopple, (800) 468-2433.


CBE News

Young Cattleman Sponsorship

The Center for Beef Excellence is marketing ‘red books’ for farm recordkeeping to support the Pennsylvania delegate to the Young Cattlemen’s Conference.  A $5 donation will go to John-Scott Port of Clarion county as he travels to the conference to learn more about current industry events and challenges.


Pennsylvania News:

Pennsylvania Taxes

Agricultural producers filing Pennsylvania taxes will not face a penalty if their taxes are not paid by the March 1 deadline, so long as documents are filed and full payment is made by April 15.  This is in recognition of the fact that many farmers use federal filing dates as the basis for paying their taxes and to avoid unnecessary penalties.


Keystone Pipeline Concerns

Climate change fears led over 35,000 people to show up in Washington, DC to protest plans for the Keystone oil pipeline.  Supports believe that the project would provide job opportunities and increase energy independence, while opponents fear carbon emissions and the environmental effects of increased oil production.


National News:

Beef Price Concerns

Beef industry economists worry that beef could soon reach prices at which it is considered a luxury item, and consumers will increasingly choose chicken, pork or fish for protein.  Restaurants are facing a price crunch as they seek to decrease portion size or serve lower end cuts to avoid price hikes.


Information Release

The Environmental Protection Agency recently released personal information on several confined animal feeding operations to activists groups.  The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was informed of the decision, despite fighting a similar battle in the past to prevent the EPA from disclosing addresses and contact information for producers.


Losing Meat Inspectors

Industry leaders have challenged Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack’s claim that forced budget cuts would mean the temporary layoff of meat inspectors.  The groups argue that meat inspectors are essential personnel and cuts will have to be made elsewhere.  The administration maintains that they have found as many other cuts as possible but some layoffs are inevitable.


Global News:

Labeling Debate

Industry interest groups are divided over how to respond to World Trade Organization requirements for country of origin labeling.  The US was ordered to change the program following complaints from Mexico and Canada.  Some groups favor doing away with mandatory labeling, while others think there should simply be changes to how products are labeled.


Cattle Management Articles:

Cow Leasing

Young farmers face high startup costs for land, equipment and livestock when they want to begin farming.  One way that some producers are working towards owning their own operations is by leasing animals owned by established producers.  This requires careful budgeting and cost management but can be a realistic way for young people to build up their equity.


Culling Older Cows

When making culling decisions, producer should carefully consider the reasons for keeping older cows.  Lower productivity and lighter calves mean that the value at weaning is lower.  In addition, it takes higher quality feed to keep older cows in an acceptable body condition score and there is the potential for unexpected death losses.

Sustainability Study

A new beef checkoff program is addressing the question of sustainability in the beef industry.  The project included a survey of consumer perceptions and will soon being a lifecycle assessment to examine resource use and impacts of every stage of the production process.  The study is addressing long term economic, environmental and social sustainability.



Growers can dispose of outdated pesticides
Farms and other commercial growers in Butler, Lawrence and Somerset counties may register with the state Agriculture Department for disposal of outdated or unused pesticides. The state's Chemsweep program covers the cost of the first 2,000 pounds per participant. Those with additional waste pesticides pay for the cost of... - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review



Montco farmers get business advice, contacts
Local and organic are the buzz words in the produce industry. That is some of the advice that Bill Brauchle, a Wegmans supermarket produce division manager, and Richard Clow, Bryn Mawr College’s assistant director of dining services, had for Montgomery County farmers... - Levittown Intelligencer



Years of drought take toll on U.S. beef industry
Years of drought are reshaping the U.S. beef industry with feedlots and a major meatpacking plant closing because there are too few cattle left in the United States to support them... - AP



Inside PDA for February 22, 2013
(Press Release)



Scarnati: County Conservation Districts Receive Marcellus Shale Impact Fee...
(Press Release)



Farmers making their plans for spring
Before farmers start their spring planting in March, they complete their winter planning in February. There is plenty to do on a farm -- even when the ground is covered in snow. Pennsylvania was home to 62,100 farms in 2012, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While that number... - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



Nutrient credit money distributed
More than $51,000 was distributed to local farmers whose nitrogen and phosphorus credits were sold last year through the Lycoming County Nutrient Trading Program, according to Megan Lehman, county environmental planner. Nineteen farmers - more than double the amount from 2011 - participated in... - Williamsport Sun-Gazette



Gov. Corbett’s Pa. budget plan cuts agriculture funding 10 percent, invests in preservation
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s state budget plan cuts agriculture, maintains extension funding for Penn State and increases money for land preservation, but it also delivers a 10 percent overall cut to the industry. And maintaining agriculture funding is something state Rep. Scott Conklin,... - State College Centre Daily Times



Inside PDA for February 15, 2013
(Press Release)



PDA: Pennsylvania Adds 21 Farms, More than 1,400 Acres to Preservation Program
(Press Release)



State cattle numbers remain steady from last year
The 1,610,000 cattle and calves Pennsylvania farmers had on Jan. 1 was the same number they had last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The state’s calf crop for 2013 was 590,000 unchanged from one year ago. Cows that calved totaled 690,000, down 10,000 from last year. Milk cows... - Uniontown Herald-Standard



National Beef to lay off 150 workers
HUMMELS WHARF - About 150 National Beef employees in Snyder County are losing their jobs as the company struggles with the loss of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a key customer. “They gathered everyone in the lunch room Monday and told us,” said a 10-year employee who is among the hundreds facing layoffs. “A lot of... - Sunbury Daily Item



Paul Harvey's ad
Super Bowl commercials typically range from the silly to the sublime. Rarely do they offer a serious viewpoint. Perhaps that's why Chrysler's Super Bowl commercial, "So God made a Farmer," featuring the voice and words of the late Paul Harvey has been so acclaimed.... - Lancaster Intelligencer Journal



Farm boom to hit record, then end next year, U.S. says
WASHINGTON — The 7-year-old U.S. agricultural boom, driven by record-high commodity prices and painfully tight supplies, is expected to peak this year and then come to an abrupt end as high costs start to bite, the government projected yesterday. The U.S. Agriculture Department said farm income would soar to a record... - Columbus Dispatch


Legislative Activity



HB 84

Miller, Ron

(PN 62) Amends the Agricultural Area Security Law further providing for the purchase of agricultural conservation easements by adding that the county board has the duty to inspect all agricultural conservation easements within the county on at least a biennial basis to determine compliance with the applicable deed of easement. The following shall apply to inspections: (1) The first inspection shall be completed within one year of easement sale; (2) A landowner shall be notified of an inspection and the inspection shall be conducted on a date and time agreeable to the county and the landowner; (3) Within ten days of conducting an inspection, the county board shall prepare a written inspection report, and if a violation is discovered, the report shall be provided to the landowner by certified mail.; and (4) The county board and the State Board may inspect the restricted land, jointly or severally, without prior notice if there is reasonable cause to believe that any provision of the deed of easement has been or is being violated.



HB 2059

Miller, Ron

(Refiled from 11R Session)

HCO 86

Miller, Ron



12-12-12 H Filed


Printer Number(s):



Bill History:

03-11-13 S Set on the Senate Calendar


HB 762

Evankovich, Eli

Amends the Tax Reform Code, in sales and use tax, providing for tax imposed on on-road vehicles and on-road trailers.


Bill History:

02-14-13 H Filed



Gergely, Marc

Allows public and private sector workers to accrue paid sick leave based on hours worked.


Bill History:

02-21-13 H Filed


SB 491

Folmer, Mike

(PN 454) Amends The Local Tax Enabling Act providing for the definitions of "farmer" and "farming" and allows taxpayers to use the Annual Local Earned Income Tax Return form available from the department's website to file the final return. Requires certain quarterly income to exceed $12,000 before quarterly returns are filed and moves the months back for quarterly payments back by one. Further allows a taxpayer to use a prescribed formula for determining quarterly tax payments. Allows farmers to file only one tax return per year, avoiding the quarterly requirement. Allows employers to file quarterly returns in certain circumstances.



SCO 230

Folmer, Mike



12-13-12 S Filed


Printer Number(s):



Bill History:

02-13-13 S Filed
02-13-13 S Introduced and referred to committee on Senate Finance


SCO 757

McIlhinney, Charles

Provides greater opportunities for Pennsylvania farm families to responsibly build structures and engage in agricultural product marketing and agritourism enterprises on their farms without local interference.


Bill History:

02-21-13 S Filed


Capitol Review

Let’s begin with a nugget of good news: we here at Happy Hour HQ are thrilled to report that our long national nightmare is over – Maker’s Mark has decided NOT to reduce the alcohol content of its bourbon. Instead of another foolish foray into fixing something that ain’t broke, the product will remain as is. By backing down in the face of a new Whiskey Rebellion, the brand’s caretakers scuttled plans for a new trendy cocktail, Maker’s and New Coke, the buzz nobody would want.

And now for the news that induces us to imbibe. First up is The Sequester, or the federal government’s equivalent of death by a thousand cuts. For those whose eyes glaze over every time the subject comes up, here’s a concise explanation of how our lives will slowly become a living hell without action by that herd of cats known as the United States Congress.

If your hair isn’t already hurting, this was the first of three weeks of budget hearings in Harrisburg. Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said that the $2.8 billion in increased pension costs coming over the next four years would require a 24 percent increase in the personal income tax, and there just aren’t many places left to cut the General Fund budget.

Then there’s all the folderol about Medicaid expansion. Although it would reduce the number of uninsured Pennsylvanians by 800,000, and the feds would pick up all of the cost for now, the federal help would be cut back to 90 percent come 2020. Governor Corbett hasn’t ruled out Pennsylvania’s participation, but he says he first wants to discuss the rules.

On the transportation funding front, President Obama has proposed federal spending of $50 billion on road and transit projects in the short term. At the state level, Governor Corbett says he’ll pony up an additional $1.8 billion per year. Congressman Bill Shuster, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi and Democrats in both houses have launched a Dickensian chorus of “Please, sir, I want some more.”

Back to Governor Corbett, his appearance before the Patriot-News editorial board spurred a number of stories, not the least of which was an assessment of his increased level of confidence and apparent determination to plow ahead for a second term.

In that Patriot session, he hinted that he may not be finished with his quest to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery, having secured yet another extension from the lone bidder, UK-based Camelot Global Services PA.

Corbett’s pal, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, said he intends to introduce legislation next month that would privatize the state’s liquor sales. The governor says he remains gung-ho over that idea as well.

On the negative side of the ledger, the notorious buzz-killers known as the NCAA had the audacity to sue the good governor and others to stop the state from utilizing all of the $60 million fine extorted from Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, scant hours after Corbett had signed the legislation into law.

All in all, though, the governor had a pretty good week, including word from Democratic power broker David Cohen that he’s likely to throw his coveted support behind the Republican guv in his reelection bid.

Not such a good week for sisters Janine Orie and Joan Orie Melvin, the suspended state Supreme Court justice, who were convicted on six counts each of campaign corruption. The charges involved using state-funded employees to work on Melvin’s judicial campaigns in 2003 and 2009.

Have a good week!

In Other News



Mediterranean Diet Can Cut Heart Disease, Study Finds
About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals, a large and rigorous new study found.... - New York Times



The Case for a Higher Gasoline Tax
THE average price of gasoline in the United States, $3.78 on Thursday, has been steadily climbing for more than a month and is approaching the three previous post-recession peaks, in May 2011 and in April and September of last year. But if our goal is to get Americans to drive less and use more... - New York Times



Corbett expected to reveal Pa. Lottery strategy
Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to say how he'll respond now that Attorney General Kathleen Kane has rejected his effort to hire a British firm to manage the $3.5 billion Pennsylvania Lottery... - AP



Pa. lottery deal gets another extension
HARRISBURG - The Corbett administration's embattled deal with a British firm to run the Pennsylvania Lottery will remain alive - at least for another three weeks. Administration officials announced Friday that Camelot Global Services has agreed to keep its bid valid through March 18th.... - Philadelphia Inquirer



LaHood warns of long waits, flight delays
Hundreds of air traffic control towers could be closed, and travelers could face flight delays of up to 90 minutes during peak hours — a result of $600 million in cuts expected to hit the Federal Aviation Administration on March 1, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned in a surprise... - Washington Post



NFIB PA: Avoid A Small Business Cyber Attack
(Press Release)



NICB Update - Sandy Damaged Vehicles Surpass 250,000 Mark
(Press Release)



One-third of seafood mislabeled, study finds
If you order tuna at a D.C. restaurant, chances are half the time you’ll be getting another, less expensive fish in its place. But those odds are better than if you had wanted snapper. Testers nationwide found that 87 percent of the time, restaurants and grocery stores were selling... - Washington Post




Gov. Tom Corbett weighing options about lottery management privatization
With a contract to privatize management of the Pennsylvania Lottery rejected last week by Attorney General Kathleen Kane as unconstitutional, Gov. Tom Corbett has several options. Go to court to challenge Kane’s determination about the contract the Corbett administration signed with United Kingdom-based Camelot Global... - Harrisburg Patriot-News



Gas heading for $4.20 a gallon?
Gasoline prices have risen dramatically, and are likely to approach $4 a gallon over the next couple of months. On that much, most experts agree. But at to where they'll peak there's no consensus. Some experts predict doom for the all-time record of $4.11 for a gallon of... - Philadelphia Inquirer



Horshoe crab debate pinches N.J. lawman, environmentalists
MIDDLE TOWNSHIP, N.J. - The horseshoe crab was weird long before it had a name, a survivor whose 10 eyes have seen dinosaurs, mass extinctions and mankind's march up the food chain. For humans, these living fossils have proved profitable. First, it was discovered that horseshoe crabs made good bait for catching conch and eel,... - Philadelphia Inquirer



Pa. governor looks for ways to shovel out of avalanche of pension debt
Pennsylvanians are on the verge of being buried in debt. An impending avalanche threatens to swallow up the state economy and create a "nightmare of economic hardship for our children" in the decades to come. That's the metaphor Gov. Tom Corbett used during his budget address Feb. 5... - Lancaster Sunday News



Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.
On the outskirts of Shanghai, in a run-down neighborhood dominated by a 12-story white office tower, sits a People’s Liberation Army base for China’s growing corps of cyberwarriors. The building off Datong Road, surrounded by restaurants, massage parlors and a wine importer, is the headquarters of P.L.A. Unit 61398. A growing... - New York Times



New National Wildlife Federation report on climate change impacts on PA...
(Press Release)



Office of Attorney General disapproves Lottery contract with Camelot
(Press Release)



A sports and outdoor show will return next year, Dauphin County commissioners say
The cancellation of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show cost the Harrisburg region an estimated $80 million. That won't happen again next year. The Dauphin County Commissioners allocated a $58,000 tourism grant Wednesday to book the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in 2014 for the 10... - Harrisburg Patriot-News



Can giving babies solids sooner prevent food allergies?
Rice cereal first and then vegetables? What about fruit? I get these questions often from my patients. The timing of when to introduce solid foods to infants can be confusing for parents, and the recommendations can vary slightly from doctor to doctor. The research is ongoing, but there is a growing body of evidence which... - Philadelphia Inquirer



Lawmaker introduces bill to legalize marijuana in Pa.
HARRISBURG — Bammy, chillums, funk or cheeba. No matter what you call marijuana, a Montgomery County state lawmaker wants it to be legal in Pennsylvania. Sen. Daylin Leach said he is introducing a bill that would legalize pot for all purposes. If approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Tom Corbett — a... - Uniontown Herald-Standard


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