< Updates provided by the Pennsyvlania Farm Bureau and Pennsylvania State Grange.<@$p>
Employers Required <\n>to Use New I-9 Form
The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) is requiring a new I-9 Form to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired in the United States. New forms were released earlier this month. All employers must insure proper completion of the form for every new person they hire, including citizens and non-citizens. New forms, along with an employer handbook, are available at the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. The handbook gives comprehensive explanations of the rules for filling out the form and the documents used by an employee to prove work eligibility.
State Lawmaker <\n>Promotes GMO-Labeling Bill
State Sen. Daylin Leach has proposed a bill that would require foods containing genetically modified organisms (or GMOs) to be labeled when sold in supermarkets. The bill has yet to be filed. The effort is similar to a California ballot measure that was soundly rejected by voters last year. Current federal Food and Drug Administration policy says food manufactures must label foods containing GMOs only if it has significantly different nutritional value. The FDA has further said the label of “GMO-Free” is misleading because most plant varieties have gone through some modification, such as hybridization, by plant breeders.
Access to Land Continues <\n>to Concern Young Farmers
A survey conducted during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers & Ranchers national conference showed that access to land continues to be a challenge for beginning farmers. Young farmers were also concerned about economic challenges, water availability, along with government taxation and regulation. However, those same farmers are optimistic about the future with 83 percent saying they are better off than they were five years ago. The vast majority consider themselves lifetime farmers and want to see their children follow in their footsteps. The informal survey was taken during AFBF’s YF&R Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, which was attended by several hundred farmers from across the country.
PFB Expresses Concerns over <\n>Proposed Water Withdrawal Rules
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has submitted comments to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) expressing concerns that new rules for water withdrawals could hamper agricultural production during dry spells. SRBC has developed a Low Flow Protection Policy (LFPP), which may be used to approve or deny applications for water withdrawals. Those regulations would apply to water withdrawals of surface or groundwater in drainage areas equal to or less than 10 square miles, referred to as headwater areas. All watersheds within the Susquehanna basin are impacted by the LFPP. Under the low flow plan, the SRBC will rely on passby flows, where a certain amount of water must pass the withdrawal point. Agriculture operations located in headwater areas could be denied critical access to water, especially during dry periods. “We strongly recommend that the regulations expressly provide that LFPP not be applied to impose restrictions in water use necessary to sustain existing livestock or regularly attained yields of food or feed crop production,” PFB said in its comments. More than three-quarters of all stream miles throughout the Susquehanna River Basin are made up of headwaters consisting of drainage areas less than 10 square miles.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau <\n>Asks Congress to <\n>Support Marketplace Fairness
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has written to the state’s Congressional delegation urging support for the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require online-only retailers to collect sales tax. The bill, H.R. 684, would require online and catalog retailers to charge a sales tax on every transaction, like a brick and mortar store. However, the bill also requires states to simplify their sales tax laws. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau supports the act because many online retailers are not required to apply sales tax, putting traditional stores at a disadvantage. A policy idea developed by the Lycoming County Farm Bureau on this issue became part of the policy book at the American Farm Bureau Federation during the organization’s annual meeting in Nashville. In the letter to members of Congress, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau asked the state’s delegation to co-sponsor the bill and even-out the disadvantage that exists. “When this disadvantage causes a main street business to close or scale back, the impact is especially harmful to the already struggling rural towns,” PFB said.