Are you doing all you can to help your state’s dairy industry? Leading the charge in Pennsylvania is the Center for Dairy Excellence (CDE), a non-profit organization charged with growing dairy profitability in the Commonwealth. The CDE can be found in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture building in Harrisburg.
The CDE was one of the first recommendations from the Pennsylvania Dairy Task Force (DTF), a group of 110 dairy producers and industry representatives. The DTF was created by Governor Ed Rendell and former Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff in 2003 to respond to declining dairy numbers. Now the DTF and the CDE work together to help the dairy industry: As the DTF makes recommendations, the CDE works to carry out those plans.
Those plans vary greatly -- from planning meetings that bring producers together to seeking out grants for dairy farmers to improve their business planning skills.
One of the greatest resources CDE provides is funding for a dairy profit team for farms. Profit teams bring together for a monthly or quarterly meeting all of the people who help producers make decisions. A team usually consists of the veterinarian, nutritionist, lender or financial planner and dairy adviser. These teams have been successful at getting dairy farms through the tough years.
Executive Director John Frey also encourages the use of the Practical Dairy Advisor Program and a recently initiated “Dairy Decisions Consultant” program. “These programs are designed to provide resources to help dairy farm families tackle the decision making process associated with business, farm and family decision making,” he said. “Hundreds of producers have used these programs.”
Other resources CDE offers for producers are business planning grants, tips to improve profitability and templates for financial statements.
CDE also offers information and programs for industry representatives, educators, policy makers, media and consumers.
Most recently, CDE hosted three Open House and Dairy Tours across the state. They chose three unique dairy farms and invited each farm’s veterinarian to speak about the animal care standards those farms implemented. To see pictures and a recap of the Open Houses, click here.
You can also view individual releases from each event at the Center for Dairy Excellence website.
The newest tool for CDE is social media. This summer, they created an interactive Facebook page and started tweeting about their programs and events.