PA State House

Pennsylvania’s House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on Oct. 23 passed bills to promote the dairy industry and increase government transparency.

A bill introduced by Rep. John Lawrence, R-West Grove, would empower the Milk Marketing Board to work with the Department of Revenue to collect and distribute the over-order premium.

The premium — paid on milk produced, processed and sold on Pennsylvania — currently filters back to farmers through the private supply chain.

But some farmers worry they are being shortchanged, and it’s hard for the state to follow the money.

The bill would allow, but not require, the state to handle the premium directly.

Another Lawrence bill would establish Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones to encourage expanded dairy processing.

To qualify for tax incentives, businesses would need to create jobs and use primarily Pennsylvania milk.

A bill introduced by Rep. David Zimmerman, R-East Earl, would require the State Conservation Commission to submit an annual report on its activities and finances.

The commission handles nutrient and odor issues, REAP tax credits, manure hauler regulations, the dirt and gravel roads program, and conservation district funding.

All three bills are now before the full House.