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Struggling dairy farmers ask residents to buy local

March 13, 2018 Digital Media Exclusive

Dairy farmers, from left, Trisha Covert, Dixie Moser, Travis Covert, James Moser, Cara Stephenson, Cody Stephenson and Sandy Stephenson at Oakland Farms.

Dairy farmers in Butler County are struggling and some have even closed multigeneration operations, but there is one thing consumers can do to help.

“Buy local,” said current Dairy Princess Maggie Rasp.

She said buying milk products in containers from Marburger, Galliker, Turner, Snyder or United will go a long way toward keeping local farmers in the business that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers started on the fertile fields of Western Pennsylvania.

Ed Thiele is a fifth-generation dairy farmer whose farm was established in Jefferson Township in 1868.

“It's in your blood,” Thiele said of dairy farming. “It's not a job, it's a way of life.”

Thiele said part of the reason some dairy farmers are giving up the only livelihood they've ever known is that milk is not as popular as it once was.

“Demand is down and production is up,” he said.

Cara Stephenson, chairman of the Butler County Dairy Promotion Team, said the Dean Foods situation brings awareness to the dairy farming industry's issues.

“All dairy farmers are struggling right now,” she said.

Stephenson works full-time at Oakland Farms in Oakland Township, which her family founded in 1795.

How to find out where your milk comes from

Local dairy farmers are struggling, but they say consumers can make a real difference by buying milk from a local producer at their neighborhood grocery store.

Anyone with a computer can find out exactly where their milk came from at www.whereismymilkfrom.com.

There, consumers can enter the code on their milk container and the dairy where it was sourced will appear.

The site also has information on finding the code on the container.

If the first number on the milk container is 42, the milk was produced in Pennsylvania.

A full story appears in the Butler Eagle.