HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a package of bills today to support Pennsylvania’s farm families, including a proposal sponsored by Senator Ryan Aument (R-36) that would help more farms host agritourism activities, such as hayrides, corn mazes and farm tours.
Senate Bill 583, sponsored by Aument, would set uniform standards allowing agritourism on farms protected by the state farmland preservation program. Under current law, each individual farmland preservation board sets its own standards for defining or allowing agritourism activity; some boards prevent farm owners from hosting these events altogether.
“Agritourism is a vital source of income for many farmers, and it helps more community residents gain a deeper appreciation of the role that agriculture plays in our state’s history, heritage and economy,” Aument said. “We should continue to support the farmers who want to offer these educational and family-friendly events.”
The bill is part of the “Farming First” package, which is focused on helping Pennsylvania agricultural operations remain competitive and profitable for current and future generations of farmers.
Other bills in the package that were passed by the Senate today include:
- 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.
- Setting commonsense safety standards and removing costly requirements for barn weddings and other social events on farms.
Additional bills in the package include measures to change the state’s farmland preservation program to allow farmers more flexibility for building or subdividing residences, and legislation updating Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code to allow the transportation of large farm equipment.
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.
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 products 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.
All of the bills in the “Farming First” package were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Contact: Stephanie Buchanan (717) 787-4420