SMETHPORT — Concerned about the devastation the area’s growing bear population is having on agriculture, the McKean-Potter Farm Bureau approved a policy recommendation Wednesday that is a step in solving this problem.
One of six policy resolutions the members OK'd at the group’s annual meeting, and which will be forwarded to the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau for consideration for adoption at that organization’s annual meeting, states: “We recommend black bear season be open concurrently with all large game seasons in Pennsylvania.”
Earlier in the meeting, one of the evening’s two speakers, Jim Detrick, a Kane dairy farmer, spoke about crop and property damage caused by bears on his land. Last year, this destruction was featured on “Erie News Now,” hosted by John Lass of WICU-WSEE TV who visited the McKean County farm.
“Something other than what is being done now is needed,” Detrick said. “Mother Nature and automobiles will not solve the problem.
“Approximately ten percent of what the farmer grows is consumed by animals. With corn prices now under $4.00 a bushel and the cost of $500 to plant an acre, that’s a big hit for the small farmer,” Detrick remarked.
He pointed to several causes of the bear damage on agriculture. “Unlike past generations when hunting was popular and many families depended heavily on game for meals, today’s generation is not as interested in the sport.”
Detrick cited recent statistics that showed of 200 bears killed last year, only three were killed by hunters under 16 years of age. Adding to the problem are the many hunters who kill one bear don’t want to to kill another in the future.
Detrick also noted that bears are responsible for reducing the area’s deer herd.
Members also recommended that the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act (old Specter-Casey bill) be re-introduced and enacted by Congress. Years ago, this bill, of which a major part was written by dairy farmers, was in committee but never made it to the Senate floor for a final vote. The legislation included a pricing formula based on costs of production, farmers wages and provisions to prevent overproduction.
The other policy resolutions were recommendations:
*allowing the states honoring Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Farm Tags (reciprocity agreements with other states) to come into play to varying mileage requirements;
*supporting all police agencies in the state of Pennsylvania and opposing any cutting or suspending of funds;
*applying the language governing distance and destination of Type A Exemptions PVC1302 to MAVS; and
*supporting more local meat processing under Pennsylvania inspections rather than U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections.
Emma Barr, the 2020-21 McKean County Fair Queen, also spoke briefly. Referring to one of her goals in the next year, she said, “I want to teach our generation about the importance of agriculture in a fun and exciting way, while stressing the jobs it provides.”
Dave Peterson reported on membership. The group met its membership goal last year.
“This year, we’re off to a great start, signing up more than two percent new members, and our renewals are coming in.”
The 2021 goal for total membership is 121, with 115 regular memberships.
Gary Isadore and Richard Kallenborn were re-appointed to three-year terms as directors.
Other directors are President Dan Shetler, Vice-President Tom Edgreen, Secretary Doris Edgreen, Treasurer Melody Shetler, Andy Barr, Mike Mangan, Peterson and David Stratton.
Brendan Reed, Region 7 Organization director for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, spoke about a proposed increase in annual dues at the state level. “Budgetary constraints such as group health insurance would make this the first increase in 35 years,” he said.