– A local farm in Albany Township will receive a state grant to boost its ability to produce a wide variety of dairy products, according to Senator David G. Argall (R-29) and Representative Jerry Knowles (R-125).
The Commonwealth Financing Authority approved a $44,653 grant to Jason Rice for the purchase of an existing dairy processing facility to process products from his 85 milking Holstein cows. The project includes the purchase of two trailers and equipment as well as site improvements to make pasteurized whole milk, chocolate milk, yogurt, ice cream and butter.
The grant was awarded as part of the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program, which was created by lawmakers in 2018 to provide assistance to one of the most important sectors of the state’s agriculture industry.
“The market conditions that dairy farmers have faced over the past several years have been extremely difficult, which have caused many farms to close down. When we find dairy operations that are not only surviving, but looking to expand, we need to help them take advantage of any new opportunities that arise,” Argall said. “The new laws we have passed to support the agriculture community over the past two years have given many farmers hope for the long-term viability of agriculture in Pennsylvania, and it is great to see the impact of one of these programs locally.”
“Dairy farmers provide essential products to consumers and make up a big part of the state’s economy, but the market is rapidly changing with more and more competition from non-dairy products,” Knowles said. “I appreciate the fact that one of our local operations is moving forward and becoming more self-sufficient in order to meet the changing demands of consumers.”
Argall and Knowles said that Pennsylvania dairy farming is one of the most important parts of the state’s agriculture economy, supporting 52,000 jobs and contributing $14.7 billion to the state’s economy. However, challenging market conditions have created a serious threat to the livelihood of many dairy farmers. The USDA reported that Pennsylvania lost 370 dairy farms in 2018 alone. The number of dairy cows in the state decreased by 25,000 head.
The Senate Majority Policy Committee, which Argall chairs, held an informational hearing at the Farm Show in Harrisburg earlier this month to examine the impact and implementation of new measures approved by lawmakers to support Pennsylvania farmers. Video of the hearing is available here