New Measures to Support Pennsylvania Farmers Signed into Law

See all the Farming First bills here.

HARRISBURG – A broad package of bills to support Pennsylvania agriculture and encourage new generations of farmers to continue the state’s rich farming heritage were signed by the Governor, including several measures introduced and supported by Senator Judy Ward (R-30).

Ward sponsored Senate Bill 661, which would create four new programs to support the agriculture community – the Agricultural Business Development Center, Agriculture and Youth Development Grants (SB 660, Ward), the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program, and the Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

“Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the state, and it helps drive our local economy. That is why we need to listen to the most serious concerns of farmers and take action where we can to help,” Ward said. “Both of my bills will help promote Pennsylvania agricultural operations and promote agriculture for future generations of farmers. Along with the rest of the bills in the package, we have taken some extremely positive steps to help current and future generations of farmers.”

Other bills in the package include

  • SB 478, which would establish a tax credit program for landowners to lease or sell farmland to future generations of farmers.
  • SB 585, which would create the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to review and make recommendations to promote and strengthen the Commonwealth’s dairy industry.
  • SB 338, which would update Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code to allow the transportation of farm equipment that exceeds the current width allowable by law.
  • SB 634, which would create the Conservation Excellence Grant Program to provide technical and financial assistance for agricultural operations to implement conservation best management practices.
  • HB 370, which would amend the Agricultural Area Security Law to allow farmers more discretion regarding the construction and subdivision of residences on preserved farmland.
  • HB 1514, which would renames the current Healthy Farms Healthy Schools program as the Farm-to-School Program and make improvements to the program.
  • HB 1516, which would create the Agriculture Rapid Response Disaster Readiness program to respond to diseases, pests, invasive species, declared disasters and other threats to the agriculture industry.
  • HB 1520, which would create the Very Small Meat Processor Federal Inspection Reimbursement Grant Program to help these businesses comply with federal inspection standards.
  • HB 1526, which would revise the Agriculture Linked Investment Program for the implementation of agricultural and conservation best management practices.
  • HB 1590, which would establish the existing Dairy Investment Program in state law to support research and development, transition to organic, marketing projects and value-added process projects in the dairy industry.


CONTACT:  Cheryl Schriner (717) 787-5490

Wednesday: Senators to Outline Details of “Farming First” Package

Watch Live

Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Chair Elder Vogel (R-47) and Senate Republicans will hold a Capitol news conference at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8, to discuss Senate passage of the “Farming First” legislative package.

The event will be held in Soldiers Grove, behind the State Capitol’s East Wing.

The seven-bill package is focused on helping Pennsylvania agricultural operations remain competitive and profitable for current and future generations of farmers.

Vogel will be joined by Senators Ryan Aument (R-36), Jake Corman (R-34), Wayne Langerholc (R-35), Judy Ward (R-30), and Gene Yaw (R-23) and members of the agriculture community.

Bill Exempting Milk Haulers from Travel Bans Earns Committee Approval


HARRISBURG – A bill that would exempt milk haulers from travel bans imposed during an emergency declaration was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee today, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senator Judy Ward (R-30) and Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).

Senate Bill 588 would allow a licensed milk hauler to transport milk on highways even during commercial travel bans during inclement weather. The legislation is necessary due to the highly perishable nature of raw milk, Ward said.

“There is a very limited window for milk to be transported before it perishes. When travel bans impact milk haulers, dairy farmers may be forced to dispose of their product as cows continue to produce milk regardless of the weather,” Ward said. “Losing an entire day of work and revenue is extremely hard for dairy farmers who are already suffering due to low market prices.”

A recent USDA report indicated that more than 2,700 dairy farms closed in the US during 2018, including 370 in Pennsylvania alone.

“Cows just don’t turn themselves off when it snows,” Yaw said. “Milk haulers are some of the most experienced drivers and they know what the roads are like here. They have the experience and judgment to be able to transport their product safely even during winter storms.”

The legislation provides for the development of a decal by the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to be issued and displayed by licensed milk haulers.

The legislation is part of the Farming First package of bills that are designed to support Pennsylvania’s top industry. Additional information is available at