October 1, 2019
The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee has released its recommendations for improving the state’s dairy industry.
Senate Resolution 384, sponsored by Sen. Judith Schwank, directed the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study on the past, present and future issues affecting dairy farmers and the dairy industry.
In a prepared statement to the committee on Sept. 25, Stephen Fickes, project manager, said that the number of dairy farms in the state had declined by 19% over the past decade. More troubling, though, is the number of cows decreased by 5%, indicating that production capacity is leaving the state.
The study produced nine recommendations for improving the fairness and oversight of the state’s dairy industry:
1. Regulate plant-based milks as a Class V milk product. According to Fickes’ statement, designating plant-based milks as Class V would allow the state’s Milk Marketing Board to establish a premium on these products, which would then be deposited into the Milk Marketing Fund for use in defraying the costs of implementing the law.
2. Clarify milk date coding requirements. Fluid milk in Pennsylvania currently has a 17-day sell by date, the second strictest of any state in the U.S.
3. License milk retailers to capture more detail about milk sales in the state. Getting actual data on retail sales would better inform future decision-making.
4. Expand research and development assistance for the dairy industry.
5. Aid the development and construction of cheese plants. California and Wisconsin have larger capacity for dairy but allowing more plants to be built could increase demand for milk in Pennsylvania.
6. Further develop the state’s identity and uniqueness for fluid milk. Recent efforts are a good start, but a broader campaign is also necessary.
7. Expand the size of the milk marketing board. This proposal would expand the board to five members and allow more inclusivity from all segments of the dairy industry.
8. Change the name of the Milk Marketing Board. This proposal would change the name to Milk Control Board, which the report states better-suits the duties of the board.
9. Improve transparency and distribution of the over-order premium. Many farmers are unsure how much of the over-order premium they actually get. Some of that over-order premium may be “stranded” because the milk originated, or was sent for processing, outside of Pennsylvania.
Source: The Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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