Policy Position Statement on Proposed Amendments to Act 319, The Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act ("Clean & Green")

Background

It is well documented that the agriculture industry is a key economic driver in the County and a major source of the food supply in the Commonwealth. The industry contributes more than $4 billion annually to the economy and employs one in five County residents.

To provide assistance to the ongoing success of this industry, The Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act 319 was signed into law in 1974. Commonly known as "Clean and Green", Act 319 provides a preferential tax assessment for land devoted to agricultural use, open space land or forested land. Enrolled land is taxed at its Use Value rather than Fair Market Value, and can result in an average reduction of 50% in its assessment.

Since the passage of the law and the definitions placed on agriculture at that time, new and innovative techniques now integral to modern production agriculture may currently trigger the nullification of a property’s Clean and Green status. Specifically, composting projects cited as examples of best management practices by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation may invalidate a business’ Clean and Green status.

Therefore, to advance the intent of Clean and Green, to support innovative farming practices and to allow the ag industry to continue its role as stewards of our land, The Chamber supports defining the term "composting" within Clean and Green to denote beneficial uses in compliance with the environmental laws of the Commonwealth, including those relating to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

Policy Position

The Board of Directors of The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry supports amending The Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act 319 to allow for composting’s inclusion in the definition of "Agricultural Use" within Section 5490.2.

Additionally, The Chamber supports that this amendment be applicable to any composting use already in existence that is already located upon land enrolled within this Act (The Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act of 1974, as amended) and is in accordance with modern composting practices.

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