More than 150 farmers from across Pennsylvania gathered on Capitol Hill, seeking support from Pennsylvania's congressional delegation on critical issues impacting agriculture. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) members discussed a wide variety of topics with lawmakers, including the need to complete a new five-year Farm Bill this year and to act on the pressing issue of comprehensive immigration reform that includes an agricultural worker program.
"We anticipate a much different Farm Bill compared to what American agriculture has experienced in the past, but a major component of the new bill will need to contain a flexible range of crop insurance products to protect us from catastrophic revenue losses that would truly endanger the survival of farm families across the nation," said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer.
PFB is also seeking congressional support for a proposal put forth by the Agricultural Worker Coalition (AWC) that would provide a legal and reliable workforce for farm families in the future, while offering a flexible plan for employers and employees. The AWC's plan has the support of the farm bureau, as well as dozens of other agriculture organizations across the United States.
"Past legislative attempts to reform the unsuccessful H-2A program have failed. We believe the new approach to immigration reform will provide a legal, reliable and long-term workforce for all sectors of the agriculture industry, including year-round enterprises such as dairy and mushroom farms," added Shaffer.
Farmers are also promoting legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from overreaching its authority to regulate farm ponds, ditches and converted cropland, but maintain EPA's ability to regulate "navigable waters" of the United States. In addition, PFB is asking Congress to pass legislation that would forbid the EPA from requiring farmers to obtain a permit to apply traditional pesticides, because farmers are already regulated, required to take education courses and pass an exam to be certified to purchase pesticide.
"Pennsylvania farmers will continue to be able to provide healthy and affordable food for consumers as long as they have protection from devastating weather events, an adequate workforce and safeguards from costly and burdensome regulations that are often unnecessary and duplicate existing regulations," concluded Shaffer.