You might think dairy is dairy is dairy. Not quite. The dairy industry is incredibly diverse in how cows are housed, how they’re fed and how they’re milked, just to name a few things.
“There’s no one formula that guarantees success,” said Dianne Shoemaker, a field specialist in dairy production economics with Ohio State University Extension. “There’s no one way to milk cows that will put you in the top third of dairy farms. I take that as good news. There are multiple ways to be good.”
Similarly, the way states handle their dairy industries is diverse. Dairy means different things to Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Each state’s approach reflects that.
In Pnnsylvania, a state with more than 6,000 dairy farms, dairy is a big deal. In Ohio, dairy is one of many agricultural resources. West Virginia has … well, you’ll see.
So what’s the right way? That’s hard to say. What I can say, after months of reporting, is that people who care are doing what they can to support their farmers, no matter where they are.