Premium payment may help state dairy farmers

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania State Grange has called on the Penn­syl­va­nia Milk Marketing Board to set the over-order premium payment at $1.

Testifying on behalf of the Grange, Lancaster County dairy farmer Matt Espen­shade said that 2018 will be a year that will be talked about for generations to come. Record-setting rainfall affected nearly all of agriculture in Penn­syl­va­nia. He said that the almost continuous rain could not have come at a worse time for struggling dairy farmers in the commonwealth because combined with the lower price for milk, it attributed to higher feed costs as well.

In addition to urging adoption of the $1 over-order premium, Espen­shade asked policymakers to take a longer view of solving the problems facing the dairy farmer.

“Reducing the financial stress dairy farmers are having involves actions way beyond the authority of the Pennsylvania Milk Mar­ket­ing Board or any individual farmer to resolve. On one side, it is increasing de­mand for product. Hopefully, legislation sponsored by Congressman G.T. Thompson allowing whole milk to be provided in school meal programs will help. Actions by USDA to have higher fat content in flavored school lunch milk also help. The main way to turn the market around will be a re-education of the American public that milk is nutritious. Hopefully, we can get a new generation to appreciate milk’s value in promoting their health,” Espenshade said in a statement.

He also urged Penn­syl­va­nia state government to work on building up processing facilities which translates into reduced transportation costs. Espen­­shade also said that ideally, the commonwealth could invest in numbers of smaller regionalized processors to promote Penn­syl­va­nia’s rural development even as it reduces costs for dairy farmers.