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Pickett Commends New Agriculture Laws
11/1/2012
HARRISBURG – Legislation designed to help enhance Pennsylvania’s No. 1 industry and protect farm families in the Commonwealth has been signed into law, said Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) today.

“Throughout this legislative session, we have been looking at finding ways to help our agriculture industry and enhance our state’s strong reputation in feeding the world,” Pickett said. “We have approved major policy changes, such as updates to our state’s inheritance and realty transfer taxes, along with adjustments in transportation law that are important to farming operations. Combined, all of these changes seek to help our farmers during this tough economic climate.”

The newest laws, signed by the governor on Oct. 24, address regulations impacting agriculture machinery. The new package of laws increases the width of implements of husbandry and vehicles that can be used on local roads during the day to a maximum of 12 feet. In addition, implements of husbandry and vehicles may be used to transport or harvest an agricultural commodity at any time during the day or night at a maximum width of 14 feet, 6 inches.

The package also updates the definition of a “multipurpose agricultural vehicle” to reflect the increases in the width and weight of equipment now being manufactured. The law also increases the distance any multipurpose agricultural vehicle exempt from registration can travel between farms from two to five miles, and revises the definition of a “commercial implement of husbandry” to clarify that the use must be on farms other than the one owned or operated by the owner of the commercial implement, and remove the 180 days per year use limitation.

An exemption from registration requirements is granted for implements of husbandry (other than commercial implements of husbandry) used exclusively for agricultural operations when operated within 50 miles of the farm or farms owned or operated by the vehicle owner. Also exempt is any implement of husbandry, trailer or semitrailer being towed or hauled by a registration-exempt implement of husbandry or farm vehicle.

“Although these changes in transportation law may seem small in the overall scope of state government, allowing wider and more modern agriculture vehicles and other implements to use our roadways helps make farming easier in rural communities like ours,” Pickett said. “Many of these regulations were outdated and did not reflect technology and the current models of agricultural machinery, or limited a farmer’s ability to work with other farmers.”

Aside from measures dealing with farm machinery, a new law allows composting to be an eligible activity under the state’s Clean and Green Program, which allows farmers to receive tax benefits in exchange for keeping the land agricultural and preventing it from being developed. Under the new law, at least 50 percent of the material included in “compost” must be derived from products commonly produced on farms.

These new laws are in addition to a change made this summer to protect family farms by exempting the transfer of certain agricultural real estate and property to a surviving child or sibling from the state’s inheritance tax. The new law also exempts from the realty transfer tax a transfer of real estate used for agriculture by a family member to family farm business controlled by the same members of the same family. Previous law that resulted in excessive inheritance tax obligations forced many family farmers to sell off parcels of the farm to pay inheritance taxes.

State Representative Tina Pickett
110th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
jkeaton@pahousegop.com
717.705.2094
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