Committee Passes Lawrence Bills to Aid Struggling Dairy Farmers

Committee Passes Lawrence Bills to Aid Struggling Dairy Farmers

HARRISBURG, PA — The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee recently advanced two bills, sponsored by Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester/Lancaster), to help Pennsylvania’s struggling dairy industry.

House Bill 1223 would establish Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones (KODZ), which would incentivize expanded dairy processing facilities in Pennsylvania, thereby enhancing the market for Pennsylvania milk.

“Based on the long-standing Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) program, this initiative would designate several ‘Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones’ across the Commonwealth to encourage new or additional processing capacity for Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers,” said Lawrence. “While people are drinking less milk today, they are eating more yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream and other dairy products. This legislation would encourage new and increased markets for Pennsylvania dairy farmers and enable Pennsylvania milk to be converted into value-added products that can be shipped throughout the country and around the world.”

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Under Lawrence’s bill, milk processing facilities that qualify for the KODZ would be required to create new jobs and utilize primarily Pennsylvania milk in exchange for tax incentives.

The committee also approved House Bill 1224, which would give the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (MMB) the ability to coordinate the collection and distribution of milk premiums with the Department of Revenue, ensuring the consumer-paid premiums get to struggling dairy farmers.

Existing law and regulations permit the MMB to establish premiums on milk sold in Pennsylvania. These premiums are built into the state-minimum price for milk and are to be used for the benefit of Pennsylvania’s Dairy Farmers, but many farmers question whether they are seeing those benefits. A recent survey by the MMB found that a third of Pennsylvania dairy farmers did not know if they received any benefit from the MMB’s over-order milk premium.

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“House Bill 1224 would significantly increase accountability and transparency on how state-mandated milk premium dollars are collected and paid,” said Lawrence. “More importantly, this proposal would ensure these funds actually get to dairy farmers.”

Source: John A. Lawrence (R), Pennsylvania House of Representative serving District 13

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