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House Passes Boback Bill to Benefit PA Farming Community

House Bill 1440 is part of a three-bill package

HARRISBURG – As part of a legislative package aimed at benefiting the Pennsylvania farming community, the state House of Representatives today passed legislation authored by Rep. Karen Boback (R-Luzerne/Columbia/Wyoming) to address the issue of a farming structure that helps extend the growing season for crops.

“Agriculture is our No. 1 industry here in Pennsylvania and it is vital for us to continue supporting and promoting our farming community across the state,” said Boback, prime sponsor of House Bill 1440. “Because the weather in our region is unpredictable, the farming community use structures called ‘high tunnels’ to extend the cropping season, provide protection from the elements – such as wind, storms and heat – and result in a more stable production system that poses less risk of crop failure.”

House Bill 1440 would amend the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act by clarifying the definition of “agricultural building” to include structures used to grow agricultural and horticultural products, such as high tunnels. Buildings that store agriculture and horticulture products are already included in this act.

High tunnels, commonly referred to as hoophouses, are unheated greenhouses made of poles and removable plastic, which can help commercial farmers extend their growing season so that they can improve the profitability and productivity of their farms.

The 117th Legislative District is home to hundreds of farms. In fact, Luzerne County houses more than 600 farms comprised of more than 65,000 acres, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Similarly, Columbia County includes more than 950 farms comprised of more than 120,000 acres, while Wyoming County has more than 640 farms comprised of 77,000 acres.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been working with educational institutions, organizations and farmers across the nation 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,” said Boback. “I am hopeful this legislation will help clear up those challenges for our farming community.”

This legislative package – which now heads to the full Senate for consideration – also included House Bill 1438, sponsored by Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny/Washington), to exempt certain agricultural structures like high tunnels from assessment as real estate in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties; as well as House Bill 1439, sponsored by Rep. Marcia Hahn (R-Northampton), to exempt high tunnels from assessment as real estate in the rest of the counties.

This legislation has garnered the support of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association and Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association. For more legislative information, visit Boback’s website at

Representative Karen Boback
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Lauren Whetzel
717.260.6451 /
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