The Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee today approved two bills included in the “Farming First” legislative package that will help promote and support Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, according to Committee Chairman Senator Elder Vogel (R-47).

Senate Bill 583, sponsored by Senator Ryan Aument (R-36), ensures that agritourism activities are considered and treated as part of agriculture authorized on farms preserved under the state farmland preservation program.

“Agritourism activities highlight our Commonwealth’s rich agricultural heritage, which benefits the entire community,” Senator Aument said. “We should continue to support the farmers who want to offer these educational and family-friendly events.”

Senate Bill 585, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34), establishes the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission to review the current status of the dairy industry in the Commonwealth and make recommendations on how to support its future.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that government regulations and policies do not stand in the way of current and future generations of farmers being able to run their businesses successfully,” Senator Corman said. “The Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission is charged directly with identifying how the state can better promote, support and strengthen the dairy industry in Pennsylvania.  Agriculture is not only an important contributor to our Commonwealth’s economy, but also an important part of our heritage. We must respond as a Commonwealth by establishing this Commission to take a comprehensive look at the industry and the implementation of a wide-ranging plan that will provide results.”

Senate Bills 583 and 585 now go to the full Senate for consideration.

In addition to Senate Bills 583 and 585, the other bills in the “Farming First” package, sponsored by Senate Republicans, include:

  • Changes to the state’s farmland preservation program to allow farmers more flexibility for building or subdividing residences. Senate Bill 145, sponsored by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).
  • Updating Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code to allow the transportation of large farm equipment. Senate Bill 338, sponsored by Senator Wayne Langerholc (R-35).
  • A tax credit program for landowners to lease or sell farmland to future generations of farmers. Senate Bill 478, sponsored by Senator Vogel.
  • Exempting milk haulers from weather-related travel bans. Senate Bill 588, sponsored by Senator Judy Ward (R-30).
  • Setting commonsense safety standards and removing costly requirements for barn weddings and other social events on farms. Senate Bill 453, sponsored by Senator Judy Ward.

“These bills are key parts of our effort to help maintain the viability and profitability of Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry now and for years to come,” said Senator Vogel, who operates a family farm in Beaver County that was established in the late 1800s. “The Farming First package, and the bills approved by my committee today in particular, will help ensure that our farmers can prosper. This is especially important for Pennsylvania’s dairy farms in today’s challenging marketplace.”

More information on the “Farming First” legislative package is available at


Matt Parido
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