Pennsylvania dairy farmer Mike Hardler fielded questions at a Slow Food/ Weston A. Price Upper Delaware Chapter meeting on marketing raw milk. Hardler explained the regulations, liabilities and methods of handling cow and goat milk that he employs in Pennsylvania which differ dramatically from those in New York State. Hardler explained that he is able to go to retail stores in Pennsylvania where his raw milk is sold as well as on-farm sales in Pennsylvania. In New York State, however, raw milk sales are limited to on-farm selling only, and these opportunities are few for consumers seeking the benefits of drinking raw milk which is gaining rapidly in demand throughout the world.
The meeting which started as a Slow Food/Weston A. Price class on making cultured dairy products in the home kitchen ended up attracting farmers, conservation specialists and agricultural planners from both sides of the Delaware River. The issue of whole milk marketing (including non-homogenized milk), developing value-added milk products such as cheese, yogurt and kefir were discussed. Jennifer Mall, of the Sullivan County, New York office of planning and economic development was on hand to explain how the Tonjes Dairy Farm in Callicoon New York was able to add value to their milk by developing a line of cheeses and cultured dairy products which are sold at retail stores in the area, local farmers markets and Greenmarkets in New York City. More than 10 years ago, Sullivan County recognized the need of local dairy farmers to diversify and was able to design and develop a mobile cheese making unit which started its life at the Tonjes Farm. Yesterday, dairy farmer, Patty Keesler of Cochecton Center, New York who has just acquired the unit was there to listen to the presentations as she works on developing a business plan for a new enterprise.
“It’s certainly not for every dairy farmer” said Hardler, “you have to be a “people person” to direct market anything. And, without my family support and help it would be impossible.”
Later, the meeting ended in the kitchen of Hills Country Inn where everyone observed the making of kefir and yogurt for homemaers, by Weston A. Price Upper Delaware Chapter leader Lucia Rudenberg-Wright.