PA-12 Candidates Discuss Farm Deregulation Ahead Of Special Election

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VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district is full of farmland. It includes Bradford, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming Counties. And last fall, much of it was flooded by heavy rains.

Monica Sandreczki/WSKG

Flooding in August 2018 caused damage across Pennsylvania. Monica Sandreczki/WSKG

Susquehanna County farmer Ben LaRue owned some of that damaged land.  Afterwards, he talked about what he now wants from elected officials. “Anything you could tell like a congressman is just loosen up some red tape as far as creek restorations,” he said. “Most farmers have pretty good common sense.”

LaRue was talking about state and federal regulations that he feels make it difficult for people like him to limit damage to his property.

In the months since that conversation, a special election has been announced in Pennsylvania-12; LaRue’s congressional district. The candidates say they hear complaints like his all the time.

“We’re not saying that every regulation we have is a bad regulation, but when there’s that much red tape that people can’t take care of their lands,” said Republican candidate Fred Keller, specifically mentioning gravel bars and stream bank stabilization projects. “We need to make it easier for people to manage their land.”

Keller’s Democratic opponent is Marc Friedenberg. He thinks it’s about understanding what rules make sense for big farms and what makes sense for small farms. “A lot of the rules, if they were written in Harrisburg or in Washington, don’t really scale down and don’t make sense for the size of farms that we have,” he said.

Friedenberg and Keller are vying to replace Tom Marino in congress. The Republican resigned in January.