Altoona, PA - Today, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined dairy farmers and industry advocates to kick off “Choose PA Dairy: Goodness that Matters,” a 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.
“The dairy sector is the largest of Pennsylvania’s $135.7 billion agriculture industry,” Redding said. “The dairy industry contributes $14.7 billion annually to our economy, and supports 52,000 jobs in the state, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. There’s a person on both sides of the equation – on one side, Pennsylvania’s 6,570 dairy farm families – our friends and neighbors who pour their lives and livelihoods into producing the highest quality products available. And on the other side we have consumers who want the very best for their families. When you buy local milk, you’re investing in your community, your family, and Pennsylvania’s economy.”
Redding noted that there are two primary ways to find local milk: looking for the PA Preferred® logo or the plant code 42 on the packaging. Both indicate that the milk was produced in Pennsylvania. Plant codes, which represent the state in which the milk was processed, are usually printed near the top of the container or on the lid. A code beginning with 42 signals that milk was processed in Pennsylvania and likely to have come from a farm within the state.
The Center for Dairy Excellence, a non-profit which receives state funding and provides resources to support the industry, elaborated on the benefits of buying Pennsylvania dairy products.
“Dairy is goodness that matters to your health and the health of our local communities, with milk’s nine essential nutrients fueling strong bodies, and Pennsylvania’s family-owned dairy farms supplying good jobs and valuable economic revenue to the commonwealth," said Jayne Sebright, the center’s executive director. “It is critical that we encourage consumers to make a conscious decision to choose Pennsylvania-produced milk and dairy products when they shop.”
“In Pennsylvania, dairy farm families like mine work hard to provide an abundant local supply of fresh, high-quality milk and dairy products,” said Jennifer Heltzel, a dairy farmer from Martinsburg, Blair County. “Whether you shop at a grocery store, convenience store or local farmer’s market, chances are Pennsylvania-produced products are available there. Choosing Pennsylvania dairy supports farms like mine.”
The Wolf Administration has undertaken a number of initiatives to strengthen the commonwealth’s dairy industry, including actively working to attract new processors to Pennsylvania, surveying county economic development organizations to create an inventory of sites suitable for a dairy processing operation, petitioning the Pa. Milk Marketing Board to seek reforms to address ongoing challenges in the dairy market, and working with stakeholders to produce a Dairy Development Plan to be released next month.
Choose PA Dairy is a partnership of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Center for Dairy Excellence, Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, PA Preferred, American Dairy Association Northeast, the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.
Find brands that locally source their milk, a map of PA Preferred® and other Pennsylvania-based milk processors, and other consumer information at choosepadairy.com. Find more resources and information about supporting Pennsylvania’s dairy industry at agriculture.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith - 717.783.0133
# # #