At the recent Penn State Ag Progress Days, state officials unveiled the Pennsylvania Dairy Development Plan to help the dairy industry return to growth in the state.
Ag Secretary Russell Redding lauded a new dedicated fund — $5 million — from the Commonwealth Financing Authority for research projects on transitioning to organic dairy farming, value-added processing and marketing.
So, how else will the dairy development plan impact farmers? Here are the top five proposals in the plan that dairy farmers should know about:
1. Adding incentives for processors to expand or relocate to Pennsylvania. $15 million will be made available to the PA First Fund to provide incentives to processors that want to expand or relocate into Pennsylvania. It will also help fund economic development projects.
2. Bringing back flavored milk. Dairy farmers have long complained that the Obama administration’s decision to eliminate low-fat flavored milk from school lunches and breakfasts in 2012 has hurt the industry and milk’s image as a nutritious food choice. The plan calls for the creation of a “School Milk Choice” initiative to offer 1% flavored milk in anticipation of changes to federal education and nutrition policy according to americanagriculturist.com.
3. Developing “Dairy Development Zones” to entice additional investment and economic growth in rural areas.
4. Convening a taskforce of dairy industry leaders throughout the Northeast, as well as hold on a dairy innovation summit on new opportunities for innovation and investment.
5. Speeding up regulatory processing for farm projects. The plan calls for $2.5 million in additional to the Department of Environmental Protection to fill positions and improve the permitting process and reduce backlogs.