Gleim, Schemel assemble workgroup to tackle PA’s FPR problem

04 March 2024- State Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland), a lawmaker and farmer, has been at the forefront of the issues surrounding food processing residual (FPR) waste for months, with many constituents in her district complaining about the odor and lack of regulations regarding FPR.

FPR is waste left over from food manufacturing, which can include vegetable peelings, raw meat scraps and liquid, like cleaning wastewater that includes blood, fat, hair and feathers.

In Pennsylvania, FPR can legally be applied to farmland as an inexpensive way to increase the amount of organic matter in soil. 

“FPR was one of the primary issues discussed at my annual Farmers Breakfast held back in the fall of 2023,” said Gleim. “Fortunately, PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding was present for the breakfast and was able to hear firsthand the many concerns about this particular product used to fertilize agricultural lands, which include environmental contamination, noxious odors, and improper handling and application.”

Gleim’s efforts didn’t stop at her Farmers Breakfast. She continued to dive into the issue, attending local municipality town halls and meetings, and was quickly appointed a member of a newly formed statewide workgroup to come up with a plan to address the challenges FPR presents in the Commonwealth. Her colleagues, Rep. Paul Schemel and Rep. Paul Friel have also participated in the workgroup.

“Several surrounding states have already put policies in place to deal with FPR,” said Gleim. “Right now, Pennsylvania is lagging behind, so we need to act quickly to make sure these waste byproducts coming into Pennsylvania from outside the state are regulated and safe for the environment and our farmlands, are transported and stored appropriately, and are not a nuisance to residents surrounding our agricultural lands.”

Redding, during a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing, talked about the need to address FPR because current state regulations are lacking. Redding’s comments can be viewed here.

Gleim, along with several colleagues, have worked on a co-sponsorship memo and legislation to update the Solid Waste Management Act to:

  • Differentiate between various sources of FPR and create a classification based upon their potential risk to farms and community. These distinct categories of FPR will be used to guide safe storage, handling and application requirements of FPR material.
  • Require FPR sourced from animal products or animal product waste to be processed by a digester and/or tested and treated then introduced via injection or timed incorporation.
  • Require documentation of the makeup of FPR and nutrients provided prior to being applied to farmland.
  • Require the nutrient levels of FPR to be included with any application plan before being applied to farmland.
  • Require the application plan to be reviewed by a local conservation district before FPR is applied to farmland.
  • Require brokers and haulers of FPR to be licensed by the Commonwealth.
  • Determine oversight process and authority.

The last meeting of the workgroup was held on Feb. 29 and a follow-up meeting will be occurring at the end of March to finalize workable details to the legislation and current statute.

Gleim explains more about FPR and what is being done at the state level in this video.