HARRISBURG – State Senator Judy Ward (R-30) and Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) will soon introduce legislation exempting milk haulers from travel bans imposed during a declaration of disaster emergency.
The legislators are introducing the bill after hearing from dairy producers and processers who have had to dispose of milk due to the weather-related commercial vehicle travel bans, rather than have it transported to market.
Nearly 300 farmers traveled to Harrisburg last week to discuss the measure and other priority issues with state lawmakers as part of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s (PFB) State Legislative Conference.
“The recent travel restrictions implemented for commercial vehicles in the interest of public safety were certainly helpful in preventing accidents, but they did not acknowledge the very unique nature of milk production and hauling,” Sen. Ward said. “We have heard concerns from milk haulers in our district about the travel restrictions.”
“The trucks hauling the milk have a limited window to deliver their product to its destination before it perishes,” Sen. Yaw said. “If dairy farmers are unable to have their commodity picked up and delivered in a timely manner, they will have to discard it, causing further difficulties for our dairy farmers who are already struggling. To make matters even worse, the fines assessed on these commercial vehicles represents another setback to the dairy industry.”
“Pennsylvania Farm Bureau understands the need to protect public safety during serious storms with restrictions on commercial hauling. However, absolute bans on transportation of raw milk put dairy farmers in a precarious position. Raw milk is highly perishable, and cows continue to produce milk no matter the weather. Travel bans of any length puts farmers in jeopardy of losing several days of milk production, which presents a significant financial hardship,” said Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert. “The legislation is consistent with what many believed to be the Commonwealth’s policy on milk hauling during travel emergencies. We are supportive of efforts to clarify that milk haulers are exempt from these types of travel restrictions.”
“This matter is an animal welfare issue as much as it is a loss to the farmer dealing with a perishable product,” said Amanda Miller, Board Director at the Bradford/Sullivan County Farm Bureau. “Without access to a milk truck, many farmers can’t get their cows milked with an already full milk tank”.
The measure is expected to mirror similar legislation pending in the House of Representatives.
Cheryl Schriner, Chief of Staff
Senator Judy Ward
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff
Senator Gene Yaw