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PA dairy farmers could get $5.6M from budget pitch

Plus: Penn State faculty frustrated by buyout plans.

This is Talk of the Town, a free weekly newsletter delivering top news from State College and the surrounding region.

May 16, 2024
Inside this edition: Shapiro pitches $5.6 million to get more Pennsylvania dairy farmers on a federal insurance plan, Penn State faculty frustrated by buyout plans, and state lawmakers took big travel perks in 2023.
Tan and black cows lying in a field
Georgianna Sutherland / For Spotlight PA
Real quick: As part of his administration’s efforts to bolster the agriculture industry through state spending, Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro wants to use millions of dollars to connect more Pennsylvania farmers to a federal dairy program, Spotlight PA’s Marley Parish reports.

A little more: The governor’s budget pitch includes $5.6 million to create a state subsidy that would lessen sign-up costs for the federal Dairy Margin Coverage Protection Program, which gives farmers direct payments to help them deal with volatile milk and feed prices.

The dairy industry requires a large amount of initial capital investment, and there’s no guarantee that market prices will stay the same each month, so making a profit is difficult, said Jayne Sebright, executive director of Pennsylvania’s Center for Dairy Excellence. The center operates within the state Department of Agriculture.

William Thiele, a sixth-generation dairy farmer in Butler County, equated the price fluctuations to riding a roller coaster. He signed up for the federal program — which works like an insurance plan — to curb some risks.

Funded by the federal Farm Bill in 2018, the program pays farmers when the difference between the national milk price and the average feed cost falls below a certain threshold.

Coverage levels range from $4 to $9.50 per 100 pounds of milk. The most basic protection is free except for a $100 administrative fee required for all participants.

Yearly premiums can range between $118 and $7,000, depending on various factors — like the coverage level and what percentage of coverage participants want.

In such a shifting market, costs deter participation, Sebright said.

“It’s a tight business we’re in,” Ed Hartman, a dairy farmer with operations in Berks and Lancaster Counties, told Spotlight PA. “You have to watch every dollar.”

The full story: Read more here.
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The view from the boardwalk at Stone Valley Recreation Area in Huntingdon County, via Amy Z.

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The view from the boardwalk at Stone Valley Recreation Area in Huntingdon County.
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» WPSU: Penn State faculty voice frustration about campus buyout plans
» SC: Four candidates vying to fill State College borough Council vacancy
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Want us to list your event? Send it to us.

» May 18: Live music and interactive crafts highlight Jana’s Art and Music Festival in Downtown State College, Centre County.

» May 18: The Centre County Master Gardeners hosts its plant sale, with more than 5,000 plants on display, at the Ag Progress Days site.

» May 18: All ages are invited to Kidical Mass, a community bike ride starting at Orchard Park in Centre County that finishes with an ice cream party.

» May 19: The Mishler Theatre in Altoona, Blair County, presents Spheres Bubble Show, “a comic fusion of art, science, and magic.”

» May 21: State College Rotary Club hosts its annual auction at the American Philatelic Society in Bellefonte, Centre County.
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