HARRISBURG – State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) today met with local farmers and other members of the agriculture community throughout Bradford, Sullivan and Susquehanna counties to discuss agriculture-related items, and also to hear from two featured speakers.
Held at the Wysox Volunteer Fire Company, attendees consisting of farmers, agribusiness professionals, educators and elected officials heard from Yaw, as well as Michael Pechart, Deputy Executive Secretary at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Barry Denk, Director for the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative research agency of the General Assembly.
Pechart provided general background and information on several Department of Agriculture Bureaus, and focused on the enforcement of regulations and mandates under their jurisdiction. He specifically noted the Department oversees the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the Bureau of Weights and Measures, which inspects and regulates over 9,000 amusement rides in the state.
Denk provided a summary of a rural youth survey that was conducted over a period of five years and focused on youth’s residential, career and educational aspirations. Denk noted that over 60 percent of seventh graders in the study reported that if they had to leave their hometown for initial career or education pursuits, they wanted to return to that community to raise their families. Denk also noted that this finding can be useful for rural communities working to turn the tide of youth out-migration, which is particularly important for the next generation of farmers and other rural business and community leaders.
Yaw also addressed the post-production cost deductions from royalty payments.
“Both Rep. Tina Pickett and I have drafted legislation to address this issue,” Yaw said. “The House bill would mandate a minimum 12.5 percent royalty irrespective of post-production costs.”
Yaw believes that such a one-size fits all bill faces serious constitutional challenges; however, he has stated he will support the House legislation if it is passed. To offset constitutional concerns, he is proposing legislation which forces gas companies to disclose detailed revenue and expense information regarding post-production costs. He is also proposing a bill preventing retaliatory action by a gas company against a leaseholder who questions post-production costs. Yaw recognized that his approach will require citizens to be active in protecting their rights. He stated, “I want to see less government in our lives, not more, and asking the government to rewrite thousands of agreements runs contrary to that belief.”
“While Rep. Pickett and I have differing approaches, our goal is the same…protect the citizens of Bradford County.”