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Clearfield Farm Bureau holds annual dinner
Monday, October 8, 2012
By Dianne Byers Staff Writer
DUBOIS - The Clearfield County Farm Bureau met for its annual dinner meeting Saturday evening at the DuBois Senior Center. About 50 members and guests were in attendance.
Three directors were elected to three-year terms and four resolutions approved. The program for the evening included a debate between candidates for the 74th district, Mark McCracken, a Democrat, and Tom Sankey, a Republican.
The three directors chosen are Leon Kriner, CCFB president, and Dan McAninch, incumbents and George Orwick. George Warholak, a former director, was also in the running for a seat.
The three will join Frank Snyder, first vice president; Larry Crittendon, second vice president; Harry Mahlon, secretary; Jeanne Hayes, treasurer; and Mike Kennis Jr., director.
Two resolutions approved will be sent to the state Farm Bureau's annual meeting at Hershey, Nov. 12-14. They are: "We recommend trail cameras not be placed on private property without written permission of a land owner." And "We recommend Act 85 inheritance tax exemption be expanded to include all farms by instrument of a will to a person or persons who will continue farming the inherited farm or farms. This will also include farm or farms that will be leased to a third party and be farmed by that party.
In a related matter, members gave permission to the CCFB to select delegates to attend the PFB annual meeting.
Two resolutions that will be sent to the American Farm Bureau Federation for policy consideration at its annual meeting in January were also approved. They are: "We recommend Farm Bureau oppose animal care practices and standards not based on sound scientific principles" and "We recommend the consolidation of some of the smaller post offices that are within close distance of another post office in the same area and Saturday delivery be eliminated."
Joe Diamond, regional organizational director for the state Farm Bureau presented an award and recognized the CCFB board for taking an active role in sponsoring events to educate the public and local legislators in the importance of local farming and outreach through local and state programs such as the mobile agriculture lab that travels to schools around the commonwealth giving students an opportunity to learn about farming and where food comes from.
He said CCFB will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next year and currently has a membership of 200. He congratulated the members and said CCFB has grown because of their and the organization's board willingness to take up a cause and work hard.
Diamond also presented an award to Mike Kennis Sr. The Volunteer Impact Program award is presented to a county farm bureau member who has found new members and expanded the membership roster.
Kennis said he was "shocked" to receive the award. He noted he did not believe he had done anything that he would not want someone to do for him and others. "I have never expected anything in return for what I have done but I have done it to help the farming community and my fellow man."
Also speaking was Marty Yahner, a PFB director representing, Clearfield, Cambria and Indiana counties.
Yahner presented a check on behalf of PFB to the CCFB in recognition of the organization achieving its annual membership goal. He also spoke of recent legislation pending and adopted in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that would assist farmers including elimination of inheritance tax and the state vehicle code. Yahner also briefly touched on the opening Thursday of a lawsuit in federal court in Harrisburg brought by the American Farm Bureau Federation and PFB against the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Yahner said the suit suggests EPA overstepped its boundaries by enforcing the commonwealth's clean water act and not allowing the state Department of Environmental Protection - the agency charged by state law with imposing penalties to act accordingly.
The debate between McCracken and Sankey included three written questions provided in advance to the candidates. Each was given two minutes per question to respond and two minutes at the end to close. A coin was flipped to determine which candidate would go first.
The first question noted the $40 billion estimated shortfall in state funding for public pensions and if elected how the candidate proposed the short fall be addressed.
McCracken said the pension deficit is one of the biggest crises the commonwealth faces. He said when he was elected as a Clearfield County Commissioner in 2004 the county faced a similar shortage but through professional advice and careful investments was able to increase the amount. He said the state should bring in a non-partisan panel to offer advice and noted it missed two opportunities that might have helped boost revenue including gaming profits and the Marcellus shale gas extraction impact fee.
Sankey said he believes in leading by example and would refuse a pension as have a number of local legislators. He noted it is an honor to serve as a legislator and it should not be considered a "career of privilege."
He said legislators need to "grow the economy" not with additional mandates and laws but through freedom. He noted spending should be prioritized.
The second question asked how the candidates viewed the future of the state's agricultural industry to the general economy and their priorities in the support of agriculture.
Sankey said he would work to enact property tax relief for farmers and eliminate the inheritance tax as well as eliminate interference in farming created by the EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Strategy. McCracken said he too would work to relieve the burden of property tax and find other ways to fund education. He also noted most county assessment laws are outdated and he would work to revise them so that the most current data is available.
The third question was "Should Sunday hunting opportunities be expanded in the commonwealth?" Both candidates said no, Sunday should be an off day for hunters and said they believed the push for Sunday hunting is being driven by those outside of the are who would stand to profit from it.
Sankey closed by noting both candidates are "two good people with contrasting views." He said the state's budget must be balanced while putting people to work. He said he believes in limited government and would refuse any benefits associated with the position.
McCracken said he believes his experience, as county commissioner would be an advantage in dealing with state issues. He said he would like to continue the work done by state Rep. Camille "Bud" George and continue to work to bring jobs to Clearfield County, improve educational funding especially in rural areas of the state while protecting the environment.
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