Back in late March and early April, the demand for milk plummeted, forcing many dairy farmers across Pennsylvania to dump their product down the drain.
“It’s often said that you don’t cry over spilled milk. That’s not true. Whoever said that was not on the dairy farms in Pennsylvania during the spring,” says Pa. Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
Paul Hartman is a dairy farmer at Scattered Acres Farm in Reading, Pennsylvania. He’s one of the many dairy farmers that were asked by dairy processors to dump their milk because the demand was extremely low.
“Watching milk run down the barn hallway into the manure pit was when the fear and uncertainty began,” Hartman explains.
To help provide financial relief to the state’s dairy farmers, $15 million of Pennsylvania’s CARES Act funding was designated to the Dairy Indemnity Program. Each farm with a documented loss that applies for funding through the program will receive a minimum of $1,500.
“The $1,500 is there for every dairy producer in Pennsylvania who had losses because of dumping or discarding milk,” explains Secretary Redding.
Even dairy farmers that didn’t have to dump milk but still experienced pandemic-related losses are encouraged to apply for relief. As of late last week, only 900 farms have applied for relief payments. That means $13.6 million is still available to the rest of the nearly 7,000 dairy farms across the state.
“The money we received has gone to pay all of our vendors fully, for supplies and services such as animal feed, veterinary costs, and animal health needs, equipment repairs and service, animal bedding, fuel, and bank mortgage payments, to name a few,” Hartman explains.
Pennsylvania’s dairy farms produce 10.2 billion pounds of milk per year. The dairy industry has an economic impact of $12.6 million and supplies 52,000 jobs.
“In addition to the emotional toll of literally pouring your product down the drain, our farmers have faced serious financial ramifications. I encourage every dairy farmer to take a look at this program,” explains Sen. Judy Schwank (D- Berks), who is the Democratic Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
The deadline to submit an application for the Dairy Indemnity Program is Wednesday, September 30th. Here is a direct link to the application: https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Documents/Dairy%20Cares%20Reimbursement%20Applic