Pennsylvania creates dairy task force to fix state’s ailing dairy industry

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis C. Wolff is forming a statewide dairy task force to review Pennsylvania’s dairy industry and issues hampering the sector’s economic growth.

The decision comes as the dairy industry experiences a 25-year low in dairy prices.

Wolff, who owns a 500-head Holstein dairy operation in Columbia County, said that Pennsylvania’s dairy industry is the largest segment of Pennsylvania agriculture, and its success is critical to the economic health of the state’s economy.

Timing is critical. “Launching this initiative now is important because of the current milk price concerns and the troubling dairy farm trend lines,” Wolff said.

“Pennsylvania is the fourth largest dairy producing state, and we want to grow the industry, not shrink it.”

Wolff said the Dairy Task Force will be comprised of dairy producers, education and agriculture organizations, state and federal government agencies and other industry stakeholders.

What’s facing industry. It will develop a Dairy Action Plan that will address the social and economic issues facing Pennsylvania’s dairy industry and our rural communities.

“The future of dairy farming in Pennsylvania depends on the decisions that will be made in the next several years,” Wolff said.

He said the Dairy Action Plan will focus on increasing cooperation between farmers and various farming interests.

Wolff says the plan includes the establishment of a Dairy Assistance Program to coach farmers on ways to increase efficiency and profitability.

The Dairy Task Force also will work with government agencies to offer economic development incentives, loans and grants for Pennsylvania dairy farms.

It also will build upon existing programs by such organizations as the Dairy Stakeholders, Professional Dairy Managers, and the Dairy Alliance.

The Dairy Task Force is expected to hold its first meeting in early August.

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Pa. production down in June

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Milk production in Pennsylvania during June 2003 totaled 855 million pounds, 4.3 percent below last year’s production, according to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Statistics Service.

Cow numbers drop. The number of milk cows in the state during the month averaged 578,000 head, 2,000 head less than May and 4,000 less than June 2002.

Production per cow averaged 1,480 pounds in June, 120 pounds less than May, and 55 pounds less than June 2002.

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