Rothman and Vogel Introduce Bills to Address Crop Damage, Expand Hunting Opportunities

HARRISBURG- In response to sustained, documented increases in agricultural crop damage as well as calls from sportsmen to open up more hunting opportunities, Sens. Greg Rothman (R-34) and Elder Vogel, Jr. (R-47) introduced a package of four bills aimed at addressing both issues.  The “Ag Freedom Package” would give agricultural producers more freedom to mitigate crop damage on their farms by eliminating burdensome regulations.  The package of bills would also increase hunting opportunities for sportsmen while protecting private property rights, which makes this legislation a win for all involved.

The Ag Freedom Package is comprised of four bills:

  1. SB 1086 seeks to provide common-sense procedural relief for farmers registered in crop deprivation programs, allowing them to transport animals to processors, thereby saving time, reducing waste, and maximizing donations to charitable feeding programs.
  2. SB 1087 would stiffen penalties for trespassing on private property.
  3. SB 1088 would establish an optional, non-public “Ag Access List” for those seeking more hunting opportunities. The list would be shared only with farmers requesting crop damage assistance from hunters.
  4. SB 1089 would add a tenth seat to the Game Commission Board from the agriculture community. Most deer in Pennsylvania are harvested on private lands, many of which are farms.

As chair of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, Rothman has heard from both sportsmen and farmers alike on the need for the changes proposed in The Ag Freedom Package.  “A recent hearing shed light on increasing crop damage by wildlife and the negative impact that damage has on Pennsylvania farmers,” Rothman explained.  “The good news is farmers and hunters can both be part of the solution. These bills help farmers more effectively address crop damage, while increasing hunting opportunities for sportsmen. A true win-win.”

As a farmer himself, Vogel, who chairs the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, knows the effects of crop damage firsthand as he has witnessed the damage wildlife has caused to his own crops.  “Wildlife-caused crop damage is a multifaceted issue that continues to affect our farmers and their bottom lines due to the amount of bushels lost each year because of the damage caused by deer in their area,” said Vogel. “I’m glad to be partnering with Senator Rothman on this legislative package and know these bills will benefit both Pennsylvania farmers and hunters alike.”

The Ag Freedom Package has been referred to the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee.

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