HARRISBURG — Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, on Tuesday expressed frustration with Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to veto his bill to aid the state’s struggling dairy farmers.
House Bill 915 sought to exempt milk trucks from weather-related commercial vehicle travel bans to ensure farmers can get their milk to market regardless of weather. If farmers can’t transport their milk, they will have no choice but to dump it.
“The governor’s decision to veto this bill is very much at odds with what he says about his support for our farmers. Every single agriculture organization across the state supports this bill because they know dairy farmers have only two options for the milk produced on their farms — they have to ship it out or they have to dump it. Period. Cows are going to produce milk no matter what the weather forecast — you can’t change their milking schedules and you can’t just turn them off!”
Causer continued, “I understand the governor’s concern for public safety in extreme conditions, but when we look at the travel bans issued this past winter, most of the ‘storms’ turned out to be nothing more than typical wintry weather conditions…if that.
“And when conditions do deteriorate, keeping these heavy milk trucks on interstates and off of secondary roads, which are plowed and treated far less often, is often the safer option,” Causer said.
Causer’s committee held a hearing on his bill and worked hard to ensure the exemption was very narrow and could apply only to milk haulers. In fact, the bill would have required any haulers who wished to take advantage of the exemption to obtain a decal issued by the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board and display it on their vehicles.
“I’m not sure what the governor fails to understand about the problems his travel bans have caused for our dairy industry, which is already struggling to stay afloat. You can spend all the money you want on things like developing the market for organics and increasing processing opportunities, but if you can’t get the milk off the farm, what’s the point?”