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Madison Weaver shows her grand champion hog.

Pennsylvania fairs could soon qualify for state funding even if they cancel because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill to allow fairs to get the same amount of funding that they got last year.

Fairs are important events for Pennsylvania’s community groups, small businesses and youth livestock exhibitors. But many fairs are skipping their 2020 iterations because of health concerns and restrictions on large gatherings.

Under the bill, canceled fairs would request money through a special grant program. Fairs that are held this year would get their state funding through the normal application process with the Department of Agriculture, said bill sponsor Sen. Michele Brooks, R-Greenville.

The Appropriations Committee approved the bill on Monday after the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee gave it the green light on June 23.

Sen. Judith Schwank, the top Democrat on the ag committee, said many fairs around the state already operate on tight budgets, and state funding is important to their financial stability.

On June 11, Ohio’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow fairs to receive funding even if they aren’t held this year.

Most Democrats voted against the bill, which includes more than a dozen tweaks to the state’s fair law, after Republicans rejected amendments to ban the sale, display and possession of Confederate flags at the state’s fairs.

On June 23, Pennsylvania’s Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee also approved bills that would allow land trusts to receive state money for farmland preservation, allow wind energy projects on preserved farms, repeal an apparently outdated testing requirement for ice cream production, and help food processors obtain COVID-19 tests.

Lancaster Farming

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