Unity dairy farm gets grant funding for expansion into cheese production | TribLIVE.com

Unity dairy farm gets grant funding for expansion into cheese production

Stephen Huba
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Holstein calves feed at Pleasant Lane Farms in Unity last fall.

A Unity dairy farm is one of the beneficiaries of a new grant program designed to help Pennsylvania dairy farmers thrive at a difficult time for the industry.

Pleasant Lane Farms, near Pleasant Unity, received $364,082 in grant funding from the new Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program — $286,744 to build a creamery for cheesemaking and $77,338 for marketing costs and the construction of an on-farm classroom and tour facility, Gov. Tom Wolf said.

The farm, founded by Marine Corps veteran Ralph Frye Jr. in 1976, learned about the grant opportunity in October during a tour by Pennsylvania Adjutant General Anthony Carrelli and Michael Smith, former executive deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

“We’re thrilled that their application was successful,” said Mimi Thomas-Brooker, coordinator of the Pennsylvania Veteran Farming Project, which organized the tour.

A producer for Turner Dairy Farms in Penn Hills, Pleasant Lane averages 22,000 pounds of milk per cow per year. Frye farms the 184 acres with his sons, Todd, Jason and Chad, who have helped expand the operation into beekeeping, beef cattle and hogs.

Last fall, Jason Frye said a robotic milking facility and a cheese facility are in the planning stages, which could increase the number of milking cows from the current 44 up to 64. Cheese production will give the farm a profit margin that it currently doesn’t have with liquid milk, he said.

On Tuesday, Wolf announced $8 million in grants and low-interest loans to Pennsylvania farmers, including $5 million through the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program.

“The grants approved today are just the beginning of our mission to help modernize and support our dairy industry in a challenging, rapidly changing business environment,” Wolf said in a statement, noting that his 2019-20 budget includes funding for the program.

The grants are meant to help dairy farmers research new technologies, reach new markets, explore new business opportunities, transition to organic production methods and expand value-added dairy production, such as cheese and yogurt products.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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.