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08/10/2018

Agriculture Department Urges Pennsylvanians to Submit Comments on Plan to Expand Raw Cheese Choices

The 30-day public comment period closes on September 4.​


Harrisburg, PA - Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today urged Pennsylvanians to submit their comments on a proposed regulation to provide more flexibility to raw milk cheese producers and more options to consumers. Under the proposed change, raw milk cheese manufacturers could make any variety of cheese for which there is a federal standard of identity, building upon the current, more restrictive state definitions. 

“In short, this change could help manufacturers of raw milk cheese increase the number and variety of cheeses they offer to a wider array of consumers, improving their marketability,” said Secretary Redding. “Additionally, this change would align Pennsylvania regulations with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, ensuring regulatory consistency and reducing consumer confusion and producer limitations.”

The change would increase the number of cheeses that can be produced from raw milk in Pennsylvania to 57, aligning with existing FDA guidelines. Redding said this increase would impact nearly 90 businesses in Pennsylvania that produce raw milk cheese, while providing additional outlets to dairy producers

Pennsylvania dairy farmers have seen a steady decline in milk prices over the past two years because of sustained pressures on domestic and international markets, declining fluid milk consumption, and growing production levels.

Governor Tom Wolf and his administration have been working to address many of these challenges since early 2015. Beginning with the convening of the leading dairy economists in the United States, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Center for Dairy Excellence (CDE) commissioned a study to provide expert views on a path forward for Pennsylvania dairy. Through that study, the administration has set a number of short and long-term goals, including: identifying opportunities in rapidly growing sectors of agriculture and developing transition assistance programs to help dairy producers transition or diversify their operations; and identifying and pursuing economic development projects within the dairy processing space.

“We have advocated for policy and program changes on both the federal and state levels, and have solicited input from dairy producers throughout this entire process,” Redding added. “This proposed regulation change is a continuation of those efforts to develop new markets for our producers. Industry and public input is an important part of this process.”

The proposed regulation may be viewed on the Independent Regulatory Review Commission’s website at www.irrc.state.pa.us under the “Proposed Regulations Open for Comment” tab. 

Comments may be emailed with the subject line “Raw Cheese Comments” to RA-foodsafety@pa.gov. Comments may also be mailed to Lydia Johnson, Ph.D., Director, Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services, Department of Agriculture, 2301 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408; or submitted by phone to (717) 787-4315. The public comment period will close September 4, 2018.

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers - 717.783.2628

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