Carol Hardbarger left her seat on the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board on March 20 to become the agency’s secretary.
Hardbarger, who joined the board in 2018, has helped raise the pricing agency’s public profile in response to festering questions among farmers about the board’s efficacy in lifting farm income, especially during recent years of poor milk prices.
Hardbarger conducted research on farmer attitudes and knowledge about milk pricing, developed the board’s social media presence, encourages people to contact the board, and writes a column in Lancaster Farming.
Board Chairman Rob Barley also praised her for rejuvenating the office culture and fine-tuning its performance. Barley said he was reluctant to lose Hardbarger on the board but believes she will continue to be an asset in her new role.
“The board interviewed several candidates and felt that all would fall short of Carol’s high standard,” he said.
Gov. Tom Wolf will appoint a replacement for Hardbarger as the board’s consumer member. The nominee must be approved by the Senate.
The Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board also announced it will maintain the over-order premium at $1 per hundredweight plus fuel adjuster from April 1 to Sept. 30.
Agricultural groups had requested that the premium stay at the current level. The premium is paid to dairy farmers on fluid milk that is produced, processed and sold in Pennsylvania.
The board made the March 19 decision via teleconference, one of several adjustments the board has made in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The agency will not enforce minimum prices for half-pint containers through March 31. The decision is intended to help processors clear inventory backlogs created by the abrupt closure of schools across the region.
The board also decided to maintain March 2020 resale prices for the time being. The board posted revised numbers for April on March 19 but soon decided to stick with the March price sheets because of the rapid market changes in response to the coronavirus.
“The board, under Gov. Wolf’s direction, is conducting business as usual and diligently working to respond to industry needs during this critical time,” Hardbarger said.