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Farmers Discuss Changing Dairy Industry at Farm Show

HARRISBURG, Pa. — While the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show is in full swing in Harrisburg, there is growing concern among the state’s dairy farmers abo...

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- While the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show is in full swing in Harrisburg, there is growing concern among the state's dairy farmers about the future of their entire industry.

There is a lot to do at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, and one of the highlights is the calving corner. Calves are born there every day in front of a live audience. The Farm Show is a place where dairy farmers teach people about the industry.

"We have public that are two to three generations removed from agriculture. They don't understand what's going on," Harold Shaulis said.

As they educate the public, Pennsylvania dairy farmers have it in the back of their minds that just days ago, one of the largest milk distributors in the country filed for bankruptcy. The Borden Dairy Company's bankruptcy filing comes just months after a similar move by Dean Foods, the nation's largest milk processor.

"Fluid milk sales over the course of the last 40 years have been declining, and Borden's is a fluid processor," said Zach Myers from the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence.

Myers says the Borden Dairy situation won't directly affect farmers here, but it does reflect a shifting milk market over the last decade. Dairy farmer Harold Shaulis says from 2015 to 2018, farmers were barely breaking even on the sale of milk products.

"The last couple of years have been really tough on dairy farmers across the state. Some people are making a bit of money, but most people are losing their shirts," Shaulis said.

The Farm Show has an area called Destination Dairy, which teaches people how important the dairy industry is. Farmers tell Newswatch 16 education is key.

"It gets consumers here, gives them a chance to see some of the animals involved in food production, and gives them a taste of what it's like to be around farming," Myers explained.

Farmers say they will continue to educate the public about the dairy industry.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation, featuring nearly 12,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.

The 2020 show runs January 4-11 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except Sunday, January 5, when it runs 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, January 11, when it opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

Admission is free. There is a $15 parking fee at all Farm Show Complex-operated lots.