June is Dairy Month in Pennsylvania. It typically signifies a time to recognize the accomplishments of dairy farmers and includes positive messages from stakeholders, who focus their attention on the dairy industry’s substantial economic impact on rural communities and the state’s economy.
This, however, is not a typical year. In fact, it marks the fourth consecutive year that farmers are receiving low prices for the milk they produce. Many dairy farm families are exiting (or considering exiting) the business, while others are going further in debt just to continue operating.
Some Pennsylvanians are becoming more aware of the challenging situation faced by their neighboring dairy farms and they have asked if there is anything they can do to help. The most immediate thing you can do is to buy milk and other dairy products produced in Pennsylvania.
Look for a “PA Preferred” logo on the carton or bottle. You can also look for the number “42” at the front of the plant code on the container of milk.
At the state level, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has teamed up with a coalition of organizations, including the Center for Dairy Excellence, Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, the state Department of Agriculture and others, to promote a new campaign called “Choose PA Dairy: Goodness That Matters.”
The campaign showcases the state’s dairy industry and the importance of the nutritional benefits of incorporating milk into your daily diet. It also has an informational map outlining where consumers can purchase fresh local milk in Pennsylvania. All of this information can be reached using the website www.ChoosePADairy.com.
Meanwhile, we are asking people who have moved away from drinking milk for other options, such as soda, sugar-packed juices or nut-based drinks, to reconsider milk for nutritional and health reasons.
Increasing consumption of Pennsylvania-produced milk isn’t the answer to completely solving our dairy woes, but it can help. And hopefully, next June we can truly “celebrate” Dairy Month.