Rep. Dan Moul

Rep. Dan Moul presides over his first meeting as chairman of the Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on Jan. 27, 2021.

The Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee acted quickly on Wednesday to advance farm and food legislation from last year.

In its first meeting of the 2021-2022 session, the Republican-led committee approved bills to limit agritourism liability, allow milk hauling during snowstorms, pay for pandemic safety measures at food processing plants, and protect people who donate past-date food if it is still good.

The agritourism bill, from Rep. Barb Gleim, passed the House last fall, but the Senate tucked it into a health care liability bill that Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed.

Wolf vetoed the milk hauling legislation in 2019, saying that the state had avoided lengthy interstate closures since it started imposing temporary commercial vehicle bans during snowstorms.

Republicans, led by former ag committee Chairman Martin Causer, argue that milk tankers should be exempt from the travel bans to prevent perishable milk from going to waste.

Rep. Bridget Kosierowski’s bill to reimburse food processors for pandemic safety measures passed the House unanimously last April but died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In the meantime, the Center for Poultry and Livestock Excellence provided $280,000 in state grant money to meat processors to pay for personal protective equipment. Kosierowski’s bill does not specify a dollar amount for the proposed grants.

Rep. David Rowe’s legislation is designed to ease the donation of food at a time when food insecurity has surged. It passed the House unanimously last year.

Wednesday’s voting meeting was the first since Rep. Dan Moul became the chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Also on Wednesday, Moul announced plans to introduce a bill creating a farm cidery license. Hard cider makers currently must operate under licenses designed for wineries or breweries, but Moul, of fruit-growing Adams County, said a cidery-specific license would increase opportunities for the budding industry.

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