HARRISBURG, Pa. — Jeff Raney, of Adamsville, Crawford County, received one of three Pacesetter Awards presented by the Center for Dairy Excellence at the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit Feb. 4-5 in Lancaster.
Other awards were presented to Brubaker Farms of Mount Joy, Lancaster County; and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank of Harrisburg.
Lifetime in agriculture
Born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, Raney was always interested in farming, and in high school, he became involved in FFA and served as the Pennsylvania State FFA vice president.
In 1984, he and his wife Brenda were given an opportunity to farm on their own when John Vanderstappen offered a plan for transition, including carrying the mortgage for their start. Jeff and Brenda initially purchased the cattle and equipment, then purchased the farm in 1990.
The herd of grade cows was transitioned to an all registered herd of Holsteins with the prefix J RA Holsteins.
In 2003, the Raneys purchased a second farm, which became the home of son Adam and his wife Michele, while providing additional housing for dry cows and heifers.
In 2013, the Raneys built a tunnel ventilated freestall barn with a focus on cow comfort. This also allowed for herd expansion, with the next goal being to build a new milking facility. The J-RA herd is milking 26,044 pounds of milk with 998 pounds of fat and 808 pounds of protein.
Jeff Raney has held many board roles, with both he and Brenda serving as 4-H leaders and as elders in their church. He serves on the state board of directors and executive committee for the PA Holstein Association and retired from the AgChoice Farm Credit board of directors after 19 years. He also serves on the executive committee to the corporate board of directors with Dairy Farmers of America and holds numerous board positions within Dairy Promotion.
Brubaker Farms received the award for its commitment to environmental stewardship, innovation and growth, and excellence and leadership within the industry.
Luke and Barbara Brubaker took over the operation in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, from Luke’s father, and the operation now has more than 950 dairy cows, producing an average of 25 million pounds of milk each year; 600+ young stock; and also a 48,000 bird broiler chicken operation. The Brubakers have conducted nutrient trading with the Mount Joy Authority; built a digester system to produce enough electricity for the entire farm and approximately 200 surrounding homes; and installed three solar panels that produce up to 130 to 150 kw/h a day.
In 1994, sons Mike and Tony formed a partnership with Luke and recently, the two sons formed their own LLC and some LPs, with Luke selling his remaining ownership interest.
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank was honored for its collaborative approach to opening new markets for dairy.
Last June, the food bank announced an innovative milk distribution program and a newly formed public-private partnership with the Pa. Department of Agriculture, Harrisburg Dairies, the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Center for Dairy Excellence.
Through the partnership, milk is shipped to Harrisburg Dairies and Schneider’s Dairies by Pennsylvania dairy farmers to be processed for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. As the first approved “charitable milk sub-dealer” in Pennsylvania’s history, the food bank now acquires refrigerated fluid milk at a significantly discounted price.
The food bank is now distributing more than 3,000 quarts of low-fat refrigerated milk each week, with plans to grow this to 5,000 quarts weekly by July.
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