HARRISBURG – Continuing the commitment to strengthening the state’s dairy industry, the House has approved two bills designed to boost dairy markets and ensure struggling dairy farmers receive their milk premiums, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint), chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
“Dairy is a vital part of our state’s agriculture economy but there is no question this segment of our industry is facing some serious challenges,” Causer said. “The bills passed by the House today would be a big help in ensuring the future of dairy in the Commonwealth, and I hope the Senate will act promptly to approve them as well.”
House Bill 1223
would create Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones, providing exemptions, abatements and cuts in both state and local taxes to companies and dairy farmers that want to build or expand dairy processing facilities for such products as liquid milk and cheese in a designated zone. Qualifying processing facilities would be required to create new jobs and use primarily Pennsylvania milk.
A joint study between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Center for Dairy Excellence highlighted the need to attract additional processing into Pennsylvania, noting that the state’s dairy sector has the capacity for at least two new cheese processing plants that could handle 4 million pounds of milk each day. Currently, much of that production occurs outside of Pennsylvania.
The “Dairy Zones” concept is based on the longtime Keystone Opportunity Zones program, which has been used successfully to boost jobs and economic development in regions across the Commonwealth.
The second measure approved today, House Bill 1224
, would allow – but not require – the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to coordinate the collection and distribution of milk premiums with the Department of Revenue, which has an existing infrastructure in place. This proposal would significantly increase accountability and transparency on how this state-mandated premium is collected and paid, and more importantly, would ensure that the funds actually get to dairy farmers.
Both bills were passed with bipartisan support and now await consideration by the Senate.
Representative Martin T. Causer
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler