Legislation to Address Crop Damage, Expand Hunting Opportunities Receives Committee Approval

HARRISBURG- The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee approved legislation aimed at addressing agricultural crop damage while also opening up more hunting opportunities. 

Sen. Greg Rothman (R-34) originally introduced the “Ag Freedom” legislation as four separate bills that would give farmers more freedom to mitigate crop damage on their farms by eliminating burdensome regulations.  Today, the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee voted to roll those four bills into one, simplifying the process.  The Ag Freedom legislation is now fully contained in Senate Bill 1087, which would increase hunting opportunities for sportsmen, while also protecting private property rights, making this legislation a win for all involved.

Senate Bill 1087 would address four objectives:

  1. 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. Stiffen penalties for trespassing on private property.
  3. 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. Add a tenth seat to the Game Commission Board from the agriculture community, integrating a critical habitat stakeholder.

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 legislation.  “We’ve heard from farmers across the Commonwealth about the increase in crop damage from wildlife and the devastating effect is has on their operations,” Rothman explained.  “The good news is that farmers and hunters can both be part of the solution.”

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee also approved House Bill 1409, which would extend the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s ability to set license and permit fees through 2025.

Additionally, the Committee considered Senate Bill 67, which would allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to set dates for Sunday hunting. 

“Today, we took steps towards helping farmers more effectively address crop damage, while also increasing hunting opportunities for sportsmen,” Rothman said.

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