Pennsylvania Farm Bureau meeting results in push for property tax reform


HERSHEY, Pa. – At its annual meeting Nov. 14-16 in Hershey, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau adopted a policy calling for property tax reform and presented several awards to members.
New policy. Under the policy members adopted, the farm bureau is allowed to support legislation that calls for the elimination of school property taxes in Pennsylvania.
The farm bureau said the current system of funding schools imposes serious financial burdens on farm families.
“Farmers are especially impacted by property taxes, due to the amount of land that they own,” said farm bureau President Carl Shaffer. “The amount of money a farmer pays for local property taxes is extremely high relative to the amount of income generated from the farm.”
The farm bureau said the solution should not only provide farmers and other property owners with true relief from current and future tax burdens, but also provide school districts with a reliable source of current and future revenue to meet reasonable costs of operation.
The farm bureau is urging the General Assembly to deal with the issue in a timely manner.
Distinguished awards. Past farm bureau president Guy Donaldson of Ortanna in Adams County received the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.
Donaldson served as the bureau’s vice president from 1987-1996 and president from 1996-2004, during which he helped the farm bureau grow its membership and led the advancement of many initiatives to benefit Pennsylvania farm families, including the implementation of Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Management Act.
The fruit grower farms 250 acres with other family members and operates a farmer’s market.
David Williams of Wayne County received this year’s Distinguished Local Affairs Leader Award, which is designed to recognize an individual county farm bureau leader whose local affairs program most benefits county farm bureau members.
Williams is a member of the farm bureau’s board of directors and is a vegetable, hay and straw farmer.
Young Farmer and Rancher. Matthew and Charlene Espenshade of Bainbridge in Lancaster County received the 2005 Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Ag Award.
The Espenshades, who are members of the Wyoming/Lackawanna County Farm Bureau, won the award for their involvement and leadership in agriculture, even though they do not derive the majority of their income from an agriculture operation.
Charlene is an agriculture writer for Lancaster Farming and owns a small herd of registered dairy cattle. Matthew works in partnership with his father on a family dairy farm where he oversees cow record management, a cow-breeding program, calf management, and assists with fieldwork.
Also, John and Jaylene Hess of Adams County were given the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award, and Pamela Barnes of Tioga County won the Young Farmer and Rancher discussion meet.

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