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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: May 23, 2013 03:43 PM
From: Representative Marcia M. Hahn
To: All House members
Subject: House Bill 1439 - High Tunnels
In recent years, the agricultural industry has been increasingly utilizing an innovation called ‘High Tunnels’ which allows agricultural producers to extend the growing season for crops. High tunnels are constructed with a frame, covered with plastic and usually quonset-shaped. They are similar to greenhouses but differ in construction and use.

In the past few years, the agricultural and environmental industry have observed the benefits, some of which are: creating a growing climate that would otherwise not be possible in certain areas, increases in sustainability while lowering energy and transportation inputs, an extended growing season, improving plant, water and soil quality, among other benefits.

To date, the USDA has been working with educational institutions, states, and farmers to promote the use of High Tunnels to benefit the agriculture industry as well as the environment. With the expanding widespread use of high tunnels in the Commonwealth, farmers have been learning of the benefits of using high tunnels on their farms and properties but are confronted with some challenges regarding real estate assessment and building code issues.

In order to remedy this, a package of bills will be introduced rectifying the unnecessary encumbrance on our agricultural industry:
  • HB 1438 (Maher): Amends the General County Assessment Law (Philadelphia and Allegheny County) by exempting certain agricultural structures from assessment as real estate.
  • HB 1439 (Hahn): Amends Title 53 Municipalities Generally (2A through 8th class counties) by exempting certain agricultural structures from assessment as real estate.
  • HB 1440 (Boback): Amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act by clarifying the definition of “agricultural building” to include structures used to grow agricultural and horticultural products. Agricultural buildings are already exempt from the provisions of the Construction Code.
Please join me in cosponsoring House Bill 1439 and the other bills in this legislative package.

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Introduced as HB1439