Candidate for NFU President Mike Eby calls for use of PA dairy legislation as a model
Lancaster dairy farmer and candidate for National Farmers Union (NFU) President Mike Eby told the Annual Meeting of the PA State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) that he will encourage NFU to use Pennsylvania dairy legislation as a model for other states to consider.
“I am in a position to recommend that members of the National Farmers Union consider adopting a policy that urges state NFU organizations to pass legislation establishing opportunity zones to attract dairy investment,” he said.
Pennsylvania is considering model legislation where investment would be attracted to rural milk-producing parts of states by offering various tax incentives for regional dairy processing facilities. The legislation is Pennsylvania House Bill 1223 sponsored by Chester County Republican John Lawrence. It would target smaller scale dairy operations investments in local communities.
According to Eby, legislation like this would help family dairy farmers in several ways. First, farmers seeking to diversify income sources could consider setting up a micro-plant to process specialty cheese or organic dairy products, similar to farm-made hard cider which is helping farmers in some states. Second, if a new facility is established, it would reduce milk transportation costs for farmers. Third, local rural communities would benefit from new jobs and economic development.
“A good idea is worth repeating” NFU presidential candidate Mike Eby stressed. “The whole idea of a union of farmers is that we listen to others and share success stories that might inspire others as well.”
Mike Eby is a 7th generation farmer who has transitioned from milking 60 purebred Holsteins to a gras- fed red angus cow/calf operation, in addition to row crops of corn, beans and wheat.
The venue at which he spoke was the Annual PSCFO meeting held in Harrisburg on February 4. PSCFO is an umbrella organization of several dozen agricultural groups that includes a wide variety of farm interests. PA Farmers Union President Heidi Secord is a member of the PA State Council of Farm Organizations Board of Directors.
The 2020 National Farmers Union convention will convene March 1-3 in Savannah, Georgia.