As a representative from a diverse district encompassing both bustling industry and bountiful farmland, Jerry Stern is keenly aware of the importance that agriculture plays in both the 80th legislative district of Blair County and to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole. Having first-hand knowledge of running a family farm, Rep. Stern has taken his fight for rural Pennsylvania to Harrisburg where he has sponsored meaningful legislation to help continue our rich farm tradition.
In the 2005-2006 session of the legislature, Jerry saw the effect that illegal local ordinances were having on individuals' right to farm. The Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environment initiative, or ACRE as it is known, allowed farmers to challenge local ordinances they found interfered with their right to farm. However, the legislation contained unnecessary rep tape for farmers to cut through so Jerry amended the legislation. He suggested that farmers appeal questionable ordinances directly to the state attorney general instead of going through an Agricultural Review Board and an Office of Ordinance Review. The legislation swiftly passed the General Assembly and was signed by the governor.
Jerry also partnered with former State Senator and Chairman of the Agriculture Committee Noah Wenger to introduce legislation providing farmers with tax credits for investing in proven agricultural practices. Known as the Pennsylvania Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Tax Credit Program, it was designed to help farmers meet environmental regulations. Rep. Stern reintroduced the legislation during the 2007 legislative session and received bipartisan support from his House and Senate colleagues while simultaneously garnering over 60 organizational endorsements. The REAP proposal was approved as part of the 2007-2008 state operating budget.
Rep. Stern's efforts toward conservation, watershed, and environmental management have not gone unnoticed. His dedication to balancing our agricultural heritage with our environmental well-being was recognized in March 2007 with the Frederick L. Zimmermann Award from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC). The Zimmermann Award is to honor elected officials who demonstrate excellence in watershed management. The SRBC lauded Jerry for his leadership on an appropriation to enable projects which compensate for consumptive water use along the Susquehanna River. One of these projects was the Barnes and Tucker facility.