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Pennsylvania

Campaign seeks to boost Pennsylvania's floundering dairy industry

Stephen Huba
| Monday, May 21, 2018, 10:27 a.m.
Westmoreland County dairy farmer Rick Ebert, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, with his cows on Will-Mar-Re Farms in Derry Township.
Kyle Hodges
Westmoreland County dairy farmer Rick Ebert, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, with his cows on Will-Mar-Re Farms in Derry Township.

Pennsylvania has launched a marketing campaign to promote the state's dairy industry.

"Choose PA Dairy" comes at a time when the specter of oversupply , depressed demand and falling prices has caused a downturn in the dairy industry nationwide.

Some Westmoreland County dairy farmers have faced the prospect of selling off their herds as dairy processors and consumers have stopped buying milk from local farms.

"The dairy sector is the largest of Pennsylvania's $135.7 billion agriculture industry," said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding in announcing the program. "The dairy industry contributes $14.7 billion annually to our economy and supports 52,000 jobs in the state."

The campaign seeks to boost the dairy industry by educating consumers on how to find and buy locally-produced milk and on the nutritional value of milk.

Redding said there are two primary ways to find local milk: looking for the "PA Preferred" logo or the plant code 42 on the packaging. Both indicate that the milk was produced in Pennsylvania.

Plant codes, which represent the state in which the milk was processed, are usually printed near the top of the container or on the lid. A code beginning with 42 signals that milk was processed in Pennsylvania and was likely to have come from a farm within the state.

Among the promoted brands are Turner Dairy in Penn Hills and Galliker's Dairy in Johnstown.

"We need to continue to push it in the schools. I'm not a big fan of the 1 percent we're doing in the schools. I would like to see a higher quality of milk," said Bill Smith of Lone Star Dairy in New Alexandria.

Smith and his wife, Nikki, ran in the 2018 Pittsburgh Marathon as part of Team Chocolate Milk, a dairy promotion campaign that encourages refueling with chocolate milk after running.

With them on the team were Matt and Nikki Carr of Lone Oak Dairy in Salem Township.

"I've been dairy farming all my life, and I've noticed a decline in the consumption of milk," Smith said. "Years ago, milk was part of everybody's breakfast, and I don't think that's so much the case anymore."

Westmoreland County dairy farmer Rick Ebert, president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, said the "Choose PA Dairy" campaign is tapping into the trend to "buy local, buy fresh."

"It's making consumers aware of where their dairy products are coming from. We assume they'd rather buy something that's produced locally," Ebert said.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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