Helping Our Dairy Farmers
I have joined the state secretary of agriculture in stepping in to try to help Pennsylvania dairy farmers after Dean’s Dairy announced that they will no longer accept milk from many local farmers as of the end of May.
Knowing the devastating impact that this decision would have on our hard-working farmers, who have devoted their whole lives to caring for their animals and putting food on our tables, I asked Dean’s Dairy to consider rolling back their decision to not accept local milk, or, at the least, to extend their deadline for our farmers to give us more time to find a solution. I also offered my assistance in coming up with other solutions, and contacted Walmart to ask for their leadership in being a good corporate citizen while also letting them know the impact their decision will have on local farmers.
While I understand that the situation reflects a complicated convergence of market forces and tough business decisions, expecting farmers to make life-changing decisions in 90 days is incredibly difficult and heartbreaking. Coupled with the strain of running a business, producers need more time to do what is right for them, their families, and their businesses.
As supply grows, demand shrinks, prices fluctuate, and Walmart builds its own large milk processing plant, these times are critical for our dairy farmers.
The dairy industry generates more than $12 billion in economic revenue for the state’s economy, and Pennsylvania is one of the highest milk producers in the country.
The Center for Dairy Excellence is another valuable resource for farmers. The center’s Dairy Decisions Consultant program is one resource that farmers may find helpful.
I will continue to work to expedite the development of a self-sustaining dairy economy here in Pennsylvania. As the situation unfolds, I welcome you to support our local dairy farmers by drinking local dairy milk.
Senate Passes Legislation to Prevent Prison Closures without Public Input
Responding to the governor’s sudden call for the possible closure of SCI Mercer and other state prisons last year, I worked with three of my fellow senators to author legislation that factors efficiency, effectiveness and public input into the prison closure process. The Senate passed our legislation, Senate Bill 748, today by a vote of 47 to 1.
Senate Bill 748 would better protect our communities and the law enforcement officers who serve them by ensuring that notice and consideration are given before any proposed closure of state correctional facilities, police barracks, and other law enforcement and security structures.
My colleagues and I joined corrections officers and local officials to make the case for why SCI Mercer should remain open, from the vantage point of not only public safety, but operational efficiency and effectiveness. Of the facilities slated for closure, Mercer is one of the lowest cost facilities to operate per inmate.
The bill comes after the state Department of Corrections (DOC) announced imminent closures of two of five state correctional institutions in January 2017, allowing only 20 days for input from the workforce, local governments, elected officials and others. In the end, SCI Mercer was saved from closure and even expanded, with the addition of a Veterans Service Unit; SCI Pittsburgh was closed.
We need the benefit of time and clear procedures to evaluate proposed facility closures, especially from the standpoint of public safety, efficiency, community impact and jobs. Our citizens deserve a seat at the table and a voice in the process. The governor’s call to possibly close SCI Mercer gave us little time to comment and caused undue hardships among so many families who rely on those jobs to pay their bills and care for their families.
Modeled after a New York law, the legislation requires that stakeholders be notified at least one year before a proposed closure is outlined, and that a public hearing be held. It now heads to the House for consideration.
Public safety is too vital a function to abruptly close facilities that could potentially result in putting people back on the streets who shouldn’t be.
Local Athletes Shine in State Championships
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