Apr. 23, 2022 / Press Release

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Avian Influenza Confirmed in PA Poultry

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed last week the state’s first positive case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in domestic poultry in Lancaster County. It was previously detected in wild birds in both northwestern and southeastern Pennsylvania and has been confirmed in more than two dozen other states.

There is no risk to the public, and poultry and eggs continue to be safe to eat if cooked properly. However, HPAI is highly infectious and can be fatal to domestic birds, including chickens, ducks, geese, quail, pheasants, guinea fowl and turkeys.

The state Department of Agriculture is working to protect the state’s $7.1 billion poultry industry with strict biosecurity protocols in place both for Pennsylvania farms, and for poultry products shipped in and out of the state. The General Assembly has set money aside in the last several state budgets to respond to avian influenza.

HPAI is mainly spread through direct contact between healthy birds and bodily waste from infected birds. It can cause unexplained sudden death, swelling of head, purple discoloration of comb and wattles, sudden drop of feed and water consumption, and lethargy or depression. Poultry owners who suspect infection in your flocks should report concerns to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services at 717-772-2852, option 1.

Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 610-926-3136 or pgc-wildlifehealth@pa.gov.

For more information about avian influenza, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov.
House OKs Bills to Help PA Dairy Farmers

The House last week passed legislation that would allow school boards or administrators to purchase whole or 2% Pennsylvania milk and make it available to students. House Bill 2397 would circumvent Obama-era policies that limited school lunch options to fat-free flavored milk, fat-free white milk, and 1% white milk.

According to the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board, student milk consumption dropped 35 percent when flavored whole milk was taken out of schools.

Drinking whole milk is necessary for childhood development, and children are routinely tossing the chalky skim milk they currently get in schools. Not only are there zero nutritional benefits from milk that goes into a trash can, but Pennsylvania’s dairy producers also feel the financial pinch. I’m hopeful this measure will provide a boost to our hard-working dairy producers and foster a new generation of healthy kids who drink milk.

House Bill 2397, supported by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, goes to the state Senate for its consideration.

Other dairy bills headed to the Senate include:

  •   House Bill 223 to create Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones (KODZ) with the goal of encouraging new or additional processing capacity for Pennsylvania milk.
  •   House Bill 224 to enable the Milk Marketing Board (MMB) to fix and to coordinate, facilitate or establish the collection and distribution of premiums established by the MMB on milk and dairy products.

Additional bills approved by the House would amend the Milk Marketing Law to increase the amount of payment in lieu of suspension of a milk dealer’s license from $150 per day to $1,000 per day, and to increase milk tester and weigher sampler certification periods from one year to two years.

The bills are pending action by the Senate.
PA ABLE Provides Savings Opportunities for Pennsylvanians with Disabilities

The Pennsylvania Treasury Department is marking the fifth anniversary of the PA ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Savings Program established in law by the Legislature.

PA ABLE is a savings program for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and their families. It provides a tax-free way to save without affecting eligibility for critical means-tested benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (up to $100,000) or Medical Assistance. Nearly 6,300 Pennsylvanians have opened PA ABLE accounts and saved more than $72 million for disability expenses.

To be eligible for PA ABLE, a person’s disability must have occurred prior to their 26th birthday. PA ABLE account owners can choose from six different investment options and an interest-bearing checking account. Contributions and earnings in PA ABLE accounts can be used to help save and pay for short- or long-term disability-related expenses. Qualifying expenses include education, housing, transportation, assistive technology, health care, financial management and more.

Learn more at www.paable.gov.

Linda and I could not be any more proud of our grandson, Caden Grady, who received the Directors Award for his musical talent during the Middletown Area Middle School Spring Band Concert. Congratulations, Caden!

My thanks to JNESO International Union of Operating Engineers District Council 1 for recognizing me with its Public Servant of the Year award April 7. The group supports my initiative to create safe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in Pennsylvania hospitals.

On Thursday, we marked the 2022 Hershey Friends of Scouting Breakfast at Hershey Lodge. My thanks to the New Birth of Freedom Council for the invitation. Cody Rager served as a guest speaker. He is an Eagle Scout with Troop 65 Hershey, where he serves as junior assistant Scoutmaster.

His Eagle Scout project involved rebuilding facilities at the Swatara Watershed Association Campground. Cody is a student at Hershey High School, and I am sure he will accomplish very big things.

On Wednesday, the Dauphin County Commissioners hosted Reps. Joe Kerwin, Andrew Lewis, Sue Helm and me at their annual State of the County address. The commissioners shared information about their efforts to hold the line on property taxes for the past 17 years, mental health resources, and upcoming parks and recreation projects.