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Study recommends better marketing, new regulations to aid Pa. dairy farmers

  • Rachel McDevitt/StateImpact Pennsylvania
Some of Rob Fulper's dairy cows peek out over a fence.

Katie Colaneri / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Some of Rob Fulper's dairy cows peek out over a fence.

(Harrisburg) — A new study details the challenges facing Pennsylvania’s dairy industry and offers recommendations to help it.

The report from the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee notes dairy farmers have been struggling with low milk prices and falling demand for years.

Over the past decade, the study found Pennsylvania has seen a 20 percent decline in the number of dairy farms. Herd sizes are also shrinking, which could put Pennsylvania dairies at a disadvantage if the market rebounds.

If the dairy industry collapsed in Pennsylvania, it would take a big economic toll.

“For example, every cow generates approximately $16,864 in direct economic benefits,” said Patricia Berger, the committee’s executive director  “It’s an industry that supports more than 45,000 jobs with total wages of over $1.8 billion.”

Berger said the industry should tout the fact that Pennsylvania milk mainly comes from small, family-owned dairies, since more and more people are interested in where their food comes from.

“One of the things that we recommended is that Pennsylvania needs to brand Pennsylvania milk the way Florida has branded orange juice,” she said.

Other recommendations include collecting more data on retail milk sales, encouraging construction of cheese processing facilities in the commonwealth, enacting new regulations and possibly fees on plant-based milks, and structural changes to Pennsylvania’s regulatory board for milk.

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