I had to admit, reading the budget presented by the General Assembly to Gov. Tom Corbett included a surprise – extra funding for dairy profit teams. Repeatedly, state senators, representatives and members of their staffs stressed the importance of this program.
They said the funds spent at one farm can benefit more than just that farm.
The program is popular – the extra funding is designed to help reduce the backlog of requests from dairy farmers asking for money to start their own profit teams.
I find it interesting that even in profitable times, when farms are collecting strong margins due to high milk prices and lower feed costs, they still want to invest in profit teams. I believe it shows the success rate of the program for farmers who have enrolled in the past.
That’s a good thing for Pennsylvania’s diary industry, which is at a crossroads. What it's going to look like in the next 20 years is anyone’s guess. Farms are changing, the markets are changing, and the next generation is reshaping the business model for Pennsylvania dairy farms. That change will also affect the rest of the dairy industry. It will drive the investment or exodus of supporting businesses.
If Pennsylvania’s dairy farms can flourish, the state can continue its place as a leading dairy state.
It’s no secret that New York has seen the expansion of its dairy industry as it has taken on the title of "yogurt capital" – farms are growing and new dairy plants are coming on line.
Many wonder why Pennsylvania hasn't developed new markets like New York has.
Hopefully, the state's investment in more dairy profit teams will return some positive returns.
Charlene Shupp Espenshade, special sections editor