HARRISBURG – The state House today in Harrisburg approved a bill introduced by local state Rep. Joe Kerwin (R-Dauphin/Schuylkill) that would help Pennsylvania dairy farmers by streamlining the certification process for milk testers.
“Dairy farmers are an important part of Pennsylvania’s robust agriculture industry,” Kerwin said. “Dairy farmers produce the milk, cheese and butter Pennsylvanians use to drink, eat and bake every day in homes across the Commonwealth. We want to make sure government quality control measures are effective without placing an undue burden on Pennsylvania dairy farmers.”
Milk samples are taken when milk is picked up at a farm and the samples are used to determine butterfat content and other characteristics associated with value and quality.
Individuals who collect and test milk samples are certified annually by the Milk Marketing Board (MMB). Milk sanitation regulations administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture require field evaluation of milk testers, weighers and samplers every two years and that evaluation is conducted by the department.
Kerwin’s bill would extend from one year to two the MMB certification process so it can be conducted in coordination with the Department of Agriculture evaluations, thereby saving time and money.
“Pennsylvania has two different government entities performing quality control tests at two different intervals, which naturally causes undue headaches, complications and confusion for our dairy farmers,” Kerwin said. “Milk testing can be effective without being repetitive. We can test the safety of these products without using redundant processes by multiple government entities.”
Kerwin’s measure is part of a larger package of bills that was approved by the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and now is making its way through the legislative process. The other bills in the package include:
• House Bill 223
: This proposal would create Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones – similar to existing Keystone Opportunity Zones – that would provide tax exemptions, deductions, abatements or credits for a limited time to dairy farms located within specific areas inside the Commonwealth.
• House Bill 224
: This legislation would empower the MMB to fix, establish, collect and distribute milk premiums, and also would enable the MMB to transfer excess money within the Milk Marketing Fund to the state budget or for the General Assembly to appropriate money from the state budget to the Milk Marketing Fund specifically for authorized payments to producers, dealers or handlers of milk.
• House Bill 2397
: This legislation would create the Whole Milk in PA Schools Act and enable schools to purchase with state or local funds whole milk or reduced-fat milk to offer to students.
• House Bill 2456
: This proposal would increase from $150 per day to $1,000 per day the amount of money milk dealers may pay to the MMB in lieu of having their licenses suspended.
• House Bill 1847
: This legislation would change the name of the MMB to the Pennsylvania Milk Board.
Kerwin’s House Bill 2457
now heads to the state Senate for consideration.
Representative Joseph Kerwin
125th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing