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Measures to Improve Conservation, Organic Production, Beginning Farmer, Nutrition Efforts Across Pennsylvania

Washington, D.C. – Following Senate passage of a bipartisan Farm Bill, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, is announcing a number of critical wins for Pennsylvania farmers, families and rural communities. Among other legislative provisions authored or pioneered by Casey, the law will include measures that address senior nutrition needs, improve conservation efforts and work to protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and across the Commonwealth.

“I have worked for years to ensure that Pennsylvania farmers, families and rural communities receive the support they need,” said Senator Casey. “I’m pleased that the 2018 Farm Bill includes measures that I have pioneered that work to improve our conservation efforts and also to make sure our seniors are taken care of. This is a strong bipartisan effort and I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this legislation.”

Specifically, the 2018 Farm Bill includes provisions from:

the Organic Agriculture Research Act of 2018 (S.2404)

Casey, along with Senator Susan Collins of Maine, introduced this legislation to increase funding for USDA’s organic research program to $50 million annually. The final 2018 Farm Bill includes the Casey/Collins provision and establishes permanent funding for this initiative, which will help Pennsylvania’s growing organic sector.

 the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Improvement Act of 2018 (S.2978), the Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Grow Act (S. 2557) & the Chesapeake Bay Enhancements Act of 2017 (S.2139)

Casey’s bill codifies the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program so that we can better address water quality and other environmental concerns, and boost wildlife habitats throughout the Commonwealth. Casey’s GROW Act, introduced with Senators Brown, Ernst and Grassley, authorizes the Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers (CLEAR) program which prioritizes conservation practices that prevent agricultural runoff and helps beginning farmers pay for conservation practices. Alongside his Chesapeake Bay Delegation colleagues, Casey introduced the Chesapeake Bay Enhancement Act of 2017, which increases funding and reforms the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

the Nourishing Our Golden Years Act (S.2085)

Casey’s bill streamlines the application process of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program, also known as the senior food box program. The senior food box program improves the health of low-income Americans, ages 60 and up, by providing non-perishable food items once a month. By extending how often participants must recertify, from a minimum of six months to a once a year, the Nourishing Our Golden Years Act would minimize the burden for both participants and states. 

the Farm to Food Bank Act of 2018 (S.2824)

Casey’s bill establishes food recovery networks to incentivize farmers to donate their product directly to food banks to be distributed to those in need. The bill would assist farmers and ranchers by reimbursing them for the costs to produce, harvest, pack, process, store or transport to foodbanks food that is safe for consumption but does not have access to a retail market or supply chain.

Other provisions supported by Senator Casey include:

  • permanent, baseline funding for programs that help small, diversified farms common throughout Pennsylvania, including farmers’ market promotion, local and regional food systems promotion and value-added producer grants
  • Significant improvements to the dairy safety net across the board and important changes for small and medium sized producers
  • Legalization of hemp as an industrial commodity
  • Expanded crop insurance options for specialty crop growers