Pa. gives $7.6 million to dairy farmers hit hard by COVID

jersey dairy cows eating
Jersey heifers eat at a farm in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. (Farm and Dairy file photo)

Pennsylvania gave out more than $7 million in direct payments to dairy farmers who were impacted by the COVID-caused market upheaval.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced Nov. 24 that 1,550 farmers got $7.6 million in relief for losses due to dumped or displaced milk. The funding for the Dairy Indemnity Program came from the federal CARES Act, the $2 trillion stimulus package meant to help those impacted by COVID-19.

“The money that the state legislature gave us is imperative to our success, and my success,” said Jason Nailor, a Cumberland County dairy farmer, during the press conference. “As a younger producer, it means a lot that… Pennsylvania has my back.”

Nailor said the money he got went right to his feed bill. 

“It’s definitely been a struggle this year,” he said.

The 1,550 recipients included some cooperatives, including the state’s four largest coops Dairy Farmers of America, Lanco-Pennland, Maryland and Virginia and Middlebury, Redding said.

Pennsylvania was awarded $3.9 billion in coronavirus relief money to be spent however the legislature and governor saw fit. Of that, $50 million of that was committed to food and agriculture programs, Redding said. There was $15 million allotted for the dairy program.

Early in the pandemic in Pennsylvania, many of our dairy farmers were forced to dump milk and faced extreme uncertainty due to rapidly changing markets,” Redding said. “In this season of thanks, we are grateful that the legislature saw and met the needs of Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers with this program. These dollars don’t stop at the farm gate. They come back in your communities through grocery stores, schools, food banks, and more.”

Through the dairy indemnity program, farmers could get an immediate payment of $1,500, possibly more later if funds were still available. To qualify for the program, farmers must have experienced losses between March 6 and Sept. 30. 

Pennsylvania has 5,730 licensed dairy herds, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. It ranks second, under Wisconsin, for number of dairy farms in the state.


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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.



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