WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania farmers traveled to Washington seeking support from Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation to push for clarification of federal motor carrier regulations and new legislation that would restore reasonable exemptions for farm vehicles.
In addition, farmers participating in Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 2010 National Legislation Conference expressed concerns over health care reform legislation, the need to assist dairy farmers by aggressively pursuing changes to the current federal milk marketing order system and opposition to legislation that would provide the Environmental Protection Agency with excessive regulatory authority over state government agencies, farms and other businesses within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Farmers have urged Pennsylvania’s representatives to pass H.R. 1220, which would remove the USDOT threat from withholding federal funds from states that don’t regulate agricultural vehicles as commercial motor vehicles and increase the weight limit for commercial vehicles to 26,001 pounds from the current 17,001 pounds.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau noted that farm families, like all Americans, are concerned about having quality health coverage at an affordable cost.
“Farmers, who are self-employed and pay their own health care insurance, recognize that some health care reform is needed, but they maintain that the latest version of reform falls short of what is needed and could place an economic burden on the nation’s treasury. One area of concern farmers point to is that the current legislation does not adequately address lawsuit abuses (tort reform), which tremendously increase health care costs,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Carl T. Shaffer.
While milk prices paid to dairy farmers have rebounded from dismal levels last year, Pennsylvania’s milk producers continue to struggle as they attempt to stay in business and payoff massive debt accumulated during 2009.
Although there are various efforts under way to address the dairy pricing issue, changing the federal milk marketing order is at the top of the list.
“Our goal is for milk prices to better reflect market conditions and better reflect regional differences in the cost of production,” said Shaffer.