PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE, PA — On behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding recently unveiled a plan designed to guide Pennsylvania’s dairy industry toward growth and development amid a challenging market that also offers tremendous opportunities for producers and processors. The Secretary released the Pennsylvania Dairy Development Plan during a breakfast of dairy industry leaders at the annual Ag Progress Days exhibition.
“Pennsylvania’s dairy industry is a treasure to our commonwealth. It’s an industry that’s grappling with difficult global market conditions, but one that is also resilient and dominated by hardworking individuals who are entrepreneurial and eager to do what it takes for this industry to grow here,” said Sec. Redding. “Pennsylvania’s Dairy Development Plan is our attempt to lay out a plan for the future. It represents months of work gathering input from the public and industry, as well as extensive research and a hard look at Pennsylvania policy. It lays out both short-term and long-term goals, and recommendations that stakeholders can use as a starting place to strengthen and expand their operations.”This year’s dairy industry breakfast meeting included a panel discussion, outlining recommendations from the study, findings from the dairy producer survey, and next steps identified in the Dairy Development Plan.
The plan includes a series of intermediate- and longer-term strategies, including calls to better use existing funding to support research and development; an emphasis on identifying economic development projects; incentives for existing producers to upgrade their dairy equipment and facilities and invest in on-farm processing capacity; further streamlining and reform of Pennsylvania’s regulatory processes; and broader marketing efforts to promote the sale, consumption and health benefits of Pennsylvania milk.
These strategies are designed to complement and supplement other work and short-term accomplishments of the Wolf Administration specific to dairy. As examples, the department and Center for Dairy Excellence launched a statewide study by some of the nation’s leading dairy economists in 2017 to evaluate opportunities and inhibitors to growth in the industry. In April 2018, the department petitioned the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to use the full extent of their statutory and regulatory powers to provide relief to dairy farmers affected by the persistent low-price environment, as well as evaluate what amendments to the state’s Milk Marketing Law are needed to respond more effectively to the present dairy challenges.
More recently, the department, dairy farmers, and industry advocates kicked off “Choose PA Dairy: Goodness that Matters,” a campaign to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry by educating consumers on how to find and buy locally-produced milk, and why it matters to Pennsylvania’s economy and the health of its residents. The fiscal year 2018-19 budget also includes $5 million dedicated to spurring additional investment and innovation in the dairy industry. The new funding, which will be made available later this year through the Commonwealth Financing Authority, may be used for projects focused on research and development, organic transitioning, value-added processing, and marketing efforts.
Additionally, the Wolf Administration has undertaken several initiatives to strengthen the commonwealth’s dairy industry, including actively working to attract new processors to Pennsylvania and surveying county economic development organizations to create an inventory of sites suitable for a dairy processing operation.
“The Dairy Development Plan introduced by Secretary Redding demonstrates a recognition by the administration of the important contribution dairy makes to our commonwealth. The plan provides a framework to encourage reinvestment in the infrastructure that is so critical to our industry,” said Jayne Sebright, Executive Director of the Center for Dairy Excellence (CDE).
Read the dairy development plan at agriculture.pa.gov. Find brands that locally source their milk, a map of PA Preferred® and other Pennsylvania-based milk processors, and other consumer information at choosepadairy.com.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
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