Grain bins

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A pair of Berks County farmers are being credited for inspiring legislation that aims to protect those who grow grain in Pennsylvania.

Those farmers lost thousands of dollars when the dealer they had been working with to sell their grain went out of business, according to Berks County state Sen. Judy Schwank.

"The lack of protection afforded to Pennsylvania's grain farmers puts them at significant risk and makes other farmers think twice before doing business here," Schwank said.

Schwank, a Democrat, and Republican state Sen. Elder Vogel, whose district includes three counties on Pennsylvania's border with Ohio, said they plan to introduce a bill that would protect farmers from grain handlers that become insolvent.

"This legislation will make sure other farmers don't have to endure this economic hardship and blow to their livelihood when they've lived up to their end of the bargain," Schwank said. "Other states protect their farmers. It's time for Pennsylvania to do the same."

The lawmakers said their legislation would create the Agricultural Commodity Indemnity Fund (ACIF), which would be used to reimburse farmers if their grain handler goes out of business.

"The establishment of ACIF will provide security for Pennsylvania farmers who do business with grain dealers, by preventing potentially devastating impacts should the company with which they have engaged in business become insolvent," Vogel said. "Further, it will promote local licensed grain handlers in areas of the Commonwealth that border states with such a fund already in place."

The ACIF would be funded by a half-cent per bushel fee paid by farmers selling or storing grain with licensed grain handlers, and annual grain handler license fees.

The per-bushel assessment would be discontinued once the fund reaches $10 million, and it would not be reinstated unless the fund drops to $8 million.

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