⏲︎ This article is more than a year old.

As farmers of a 400-head herd of Holstein dairy cattle in South Annville Township, Brent and Stacey Copenhaver know that the milk their cows produce at Talview Dairy has a big impact on the local economy.

“I think, especially right now, when you think of the small businesses around us and what has happened to them, that buying local is so important to spur on our local economies,” Stacey Copenhaver said. “Buying Pennsylvania milk definitely helps our small businesses continue to thrive.”

Getting the milk from the farm to your local grocery store requires a chain of workers, most of whom live in the local community.

From the nearby veterinarians who care for the cattle to the truck drivers who haul the milk to the dairy and the grocery store workers who stock the shelves, the financial impact of the dairy industry on a local community is massive.

“Every 10 cows a farmer milks supports one job in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and leads to $24,000 in annual economic revenue, both directly and indirectly,” Copenhaver said. “So many other small businesses are tied to our business. When you choose to support your local dairy farm, you are also supporting other small businesses as well.”

The positive impact the dairy industry has on Pennsylvania’s local economies is why the Palmyra-based Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association has launched a marketing campaign to tout all of the benefits of consuming dairy products during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We Are Your Dairy Farmers: Stronger Together, Buy Local, Choose PA Dairy” was created to encourage families to support their local farm families who work hard to produce fresh, local milk and other dairy products that feed and nourish the community.

“Our goal is to educate everyone about the importance of our farmers to their local communities and economies, and when we buy local, and choose PA dairy or PA Preferred products, we are getting 100 percent guaranteed Pennsylvania-produced milk,” said Dave Smith, executive director of the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association.

There are, of course, many other benefits to buying dairy products as well—especially during this pandemic. With so many families dealing with reduced wages, milk and other dairy products are an affordable way to feed your family.

“Milk is a very affordable grocery store item,” Copenhaver noted. “Milk costs about 25 cents per glass, which when compared to other beverages, is a great nutritional bargain for our families.”

Do you remember the “Milk: It Does a Body Good” campaign? The reason that marketing campaign was so successful is because its message rang true—and still does today.

“We definitely recommend and encourage Pennsylvania families to add dairy to their grocery store lists and get their three servings of dairy every day,” Copenhaver said. “It is a nutritional powerhouse, containing nine essential nutrients to help keep us healthy and strong. It’s so important to continue to live our lives and make healthy decisions, and we need to take care of our own bodies and our families, especially during this time.”

Brent Copenhaver and son Tanner walk their Annville farm.

There are several ways you can ensure you are getting Pennsylvania’s best, according to Copenhaver. Look for the PA Preferred label and the Plant Code 42 label on dairy products.

The state dairymen’s association shared how consumers can guarantee they are receiving the very freshest products at their local grocer while also supporting Pennsylvania dairy producers:

PA Preferred

The surest way to know your milk is 100 percent Pennsylvania is to look for the PA Preferred logo. PA Preferred is a state branding campaign to ensure consumers they’re supporting agribusinesses from their home state. Processors distributing milk with the PA Preferred logo on the final product are required to source 100 percent of their dairy from Pennsylvania farmers.

Plant Code 42

If you can’t find the PA Preferred logo on milk in your grocery store dairy case, look for the plant code. Milk with a plant code beginning with “42” means the milk is processed in Pennsylvania and sourced predominately from Pennsylvania dairy farms. Plant codes are usually printed near the top of the container or on the lid; sometimes they’re printed right on the label. The first, and most important, part of the code will always be two numbers between 01 and 56—this identifies the state where the milk was processed. Pennsylvania’s magic number is 42!

Locating these labels is a sure-fire way consumers can know that the milk they buy is fresh. The Copenhaver’s milk doesn’t leave Lebanon County to be processed, travelling from their farm to Swiss Premium Dairy Inc. on Walnut Street in Lebanon.

“The one thing that is really awesome is knowing that when you see those labels that you know your milk is fresh,” Copenhaver said. “It only takes 72 hours for milk to go from the farm to the grocery shelf. It’s comforting to know that every glass of milk you pour is fresh, and that’s why it is so important to support your local dairy, especially Pennsylvania dairies.”

It has been noted during this pandemic that food security is closely tied to our national security, a belief that’s shared by the Copenhavers.

“Not having to depend on people of other nations to provide food for us and the ability to be self-sufficient is really about our security as a nation,” Copenhaver said. “When you buy local, you are assured that you know where your food is coming from while supporting those who grow our food. As dairy farmers, we are so honored and so proud to be able to feed America.”

Read more: Shifting demand, supply chain issues force dairy farmers to dump fluid milk

As Americans shift to the “new normal” in the coming months and years, Copenhaver hopes the role dairy farmers are playing during the pandemic is remembered by consumers.

“I hope in the short-term that people will recognize that milk is still being provided to them, that our cows are still being milked and farmers are working with their partners to deliver fresh and wholesome products to consumers,” Copenhaver said. “In the long term, I hope that milk will continue to be something that consumers want and that demand will remain strong.”

As a courtesy to our readers, Copenhaver shared one of her family’s favorite recipes for you to enjoy at home.

Recipe: Ricotta Pancakes

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups milk, 3/4 ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract until well blended.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the hot skillet and swirl the pan to coat with melted butter.
  5. Pour the batter to form pancakes. Cook until tops are covered with bubbles and the edges are crispy brown, then flip and cook on the other side.
  6. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


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