Cambria County farmers meet with legislators to discuss problems

EBENSBURG, Pa. (WTAJ)– Local and state legislators met at the annual Cambria County Farm Bureau Legislative Farm Tour Friday morning to discuss the biggest challenges that farmers are facing in our area, and across the state.

The meeting was held at Bailey Hill Farms in Ebensburg. Legislators listened and offered their opinions on several issues, most notably stormwater management, which has become a financial burden for many communities across the state.

To pay for the related increasing costs, as of March 2021, 27 municipalities across the state have implemented user fees for stormwater management services. Something that Cambria County Farm Bureau President Marty Yahner says isn’t fair for farmers.

“Municipalities need to raise money for their stormwater management facilities and we understand that,” Yahner said. “But farmers are being charged thousands of dollars in fees based on their impervious structures like rooves, surfaces like parking lots and what not.”

Yahner says that the fees don’t take into account how farmland prevents further runoff.

“Farmers have a whole bunch of land usually with pervious surfaces for the water to soak into,” Yahner said. “So we’re asking the state legislators to give us credits or exemptions from these fees because they’re based on impervious surfaces.”

Richland Township Supervisor Bob Heffelfinger agrees, saying that the spread of the practice is a danger to small businesses, like family-owned farms.

“If in fact a municipality would assign a fee for stormwater control for assistance, that obviously would impact the farm, as much as it would any other business,” Heffelfinger said.

Another concern that was echoed by several lawmakers was broadband access in rural areas. Yahner says that there has been a lot of progress made with more federal and state money for the issue, but that legislators need to remember that farming is advancing as fast as other industries.

“Farmers are not low tech anymore,” Yahner said. “Technology is becoming more and more prevalent, common and needed. So farmers have a lot of high tech equipment.”

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Yahner said it’s less about getting the funding to expand the infrastructure, due to the Federal Infrastructure Investment In Jobs Act passed in 2021. Rather it’s about choosing the right locations to invest in. Cambria County farmers meet with legislators to discuss problems

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