Pennsylvania announces $5m grant for dairy farmers

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced the availability of $5 million in grant funding to help the state’s dairy farmers overcome challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. The historic funding, made available for the first time under the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program, is the most recent of several initiatives from the Wolf Administration to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.

“Today’s market has presented new challenges to dairy farmers that are requiring them to innovate and adapt in order to remain successful,” Wolf said. “The new Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program is a key tool that incentivizes the dairy industry to support the often costly and difficult process of modernizing or expanding their business model or operation. My administration is proud to continue to stand with our hard-working dairy farmers and their families.”

The Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program was established under Act 42 of 2018 and will provide $5 million in grants to eligible applicants for researching new technologies, products and best practices; marketing to new domestic and international markets and exploring new business opportunities to diversify their operation and revenue streams; transitioning to organic production methods, and incorporating or expanding value-added dairy production, such as cheese and yogurt products. The program is now open for applications after guidelines were approved at the Commonwealth Financing Authority board meeting.

“These grants will help enable Pennsylvania dairy producers to overcome existing challenges, diversify their businesses and strengthen their operations to aggressively and effectively compete in an increasingly competitive market,” Pennsylvania agriculture secretary Russell Redding said. “This historic funding is not only a critical investment in an industry grappling with difficult global market conditions but a critical investment in our largest sector of production agriculture and the people whose livelihoods rely on it.”

In August, Redding unveiled the Wolf administration’s Dairy Development Plan, which is designed to guide Pennsylvania’s dairy industry toward growth and development amid a challenging market that also offers tremendous opportunities for producers and processors.

Other measures the administration has taken to support the dairy industry include: joining dairy partners to kick off the “Choose PA Dairy: Goodness that Matters” campaign to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry by educating consumers on how to find and buy locally produced milk and why it matters to Pennsylvania’s economy and the health of its residents; launching a statewide study by some of the nation’s leading dairy economists in 2017 to evaluate opportunities and inhibitors to growth in the industry; petitioning the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to use the full extent of its statutory and regulatory powers to provide relief to dairy farmers affected by the persistent low price environment; working to attract new processors to Pennsylvania, and surveying county economic development organizations to create an inventory of sites suitable for a dairy processing operation.