The dairy industry is mother’s milk to Pennsylvania’s economy, generating $15 billion and an estimated 52,000 jobs. But for several years, the bottom line’s gone sour for the men and women who are producing the milk. If there is an easy way to make a living, dairy farming most certainly is not it.
“These are animals you have to worry about on hot days and on cold days and seven days a week,” said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, who grew up on a dairy farm in Adams County and owned one in the 1980’s and 90’s. The cows need food and water twice a day. They are milked, typically, three times a day. It is labor intensive, and for most farmers, a labor of love. But the depths of their affection is being severely tested.
“I worry as much now about dairy as I did when we had our cows,” Redding said. The concern is not about milk production. The glass is half full there.