Rebound in milk prices a relief for farmers
Some Western Pennsylvania dairy farmers are seeing signs their industry is improving two years after the recession significantly lowered the price they received for milk.
"On the whole, attitudes have been better and prices have been better," said Myron Bonzo, 47, a lifelong dairy farmer with 250 acres in New Sewickley in Beaver County. About 8,500 dairy farms operate in Pennsylvania.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rising demand sent milk prices from $14.30 per 100 pounds in October 2009 to $19.90 in October of this year.
"When the economy tanked, it was extremely severe on the dairy industry in Pennsylvania and the country," said David Smith, executive director of the PA Dairymen's Association. "This year, milk prices have far improved — 2011 has been a fairly decent year for dairy farmers, far better than 2009."
Locally, the cessation of milk production at a Beaver County farm has not affected business at other dairies, farmers say.
Brunton Dairy, in Independence, voluntarily ceased production twice in the past year after several people developed symptoms caused by bacteria known as Yersinia enterocolitica, according to the state Department of Health.
"They filled such a niche market," said Bonzo, referring to customers who favored Brunton's glass-bottled milk. "It was a pretty isolated incident."
Joseph A. Wakeling Jr. of Moon is suing Brunton Dairy, claiming tainted milk he drank caused kidney damage. Wakeling filed the lawsuit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court last week.
Wakeling did not return phone calls. His attorney, James Tallman, declined comment.
Herb Brunton, who works at the family farm, referred comment to the family's attorney, who did not return calls.
Jim Marburger, president of the 300-acre Marburger Farm Dairy in Evans City in Butler County, said while milk prices are up, so is the cost of production. Nationwide, prices for things such as fertilizer, feed and utilities have risen sharply, Smith said.
"It's not easy," said Marburger, a third-generation farmer. "You've got to watch every little bit you can watch."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hit sends Penguins’ Letang to hospital
- Veteran designation on Pennsylvania driver’s licenses loosely audited
- Lights go out for Earth Hour 2015
- Downie’s goal, fight spark Penguins to win over Coyotes
- Matters of taste
- NHL notebook: Panthers interested in re-signing 43-year-old Jagr
- Riverhounds win 1st season opener since 2008
- If you get this letter from the IRS, it’s legitimate
- Attorneys: Sterilizations were part of plea deal talks
- Corporate missteps hurt reputations, profits, sometimes in long run
- Pirates notebook: Polanco’s power outburst a matter of timing