HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Center for Dairy Excellence has released the summary findings of the 2017 Pennsylvania Dairy Study Producer Survey. The producer survey was part of a larger Pennsylvania Dairy Study, commissioned by the Center and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture last year. This confidential survey sent out in June 2017 to all Pennsylvania dairy farms asked dairy producers to reflect on the changes in the industry and how it has impacted their businesses within the big picture of the current situation of the dairy industry.
Survey respondents totaled 991 farms representing 1,232 households. Among them, 880 of the farms were milking cows when they completed the survey. This corresponds to around 14 percent of the 6,570 dairy farms in the Commonwealth. The participating farms represented about 9 percent of Pennsylvania’s milk supply.
“The survey results offering a telling picture into the landscape of our dairy industry,” said Jayne Sebright, executive director with the Center. “It speaks to what makes our industry unique here in Pennsylvania and where our farms plan to prioritize in the coming years.”
Expansion was not identified as a priority over the next five years. Instead, farms responding listed maximizing milk price, increasing milk components and lowering their cost of production by maximizing homegrown feed as their priorities over the next three to five years. The greatest needs identified by respondents were access to milk markets and land availability.
In 2008 and 2012, the Center circulated a similar inquiry to Pennsylvania dairy farms. The current survey results, as well as the comparisons between the current survey and past results, shed some insight to attitude and practice changes on these farms over the past ten years. The average respondent in 2017 milked one more cow than in 2012 and eight more than in 2008. Milk production and the average operator age increased, while somatic cell counts continued to decrease, showing improvements in milk quality during the past 10 years.
A complete summary of the results can be found on the Center’s websites, along with other findings included in the comprehensive Pennsylvania Dairy Study. To read and learn more about the findings from the producer survey, visit www.centerfordairyexcellence.org and under “Dairy Information” go to “Pennsylvania Dairy Study 2017.” For questions about the dairy study, please call the Center at 717-346-0849.
— Center for Dairy Excellence