Baby calf

It’s that time again! Most of us make New Year’s resolutions, even if we don’t speak them out loud. The new year brings with it a historical time to start over, make amends, and make things better. There are opportunities to reflect on relationships, job responsibilities and personal goals. Aside from thinking about losing those extra 10 pounds I am sure to gain during the holidays, I am planning to do my small part to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry. I hope we can, collectively, adopt and work on some of my resolutions.

First, we need to speak with a unified voice, working out our disagreements in private. There are many thoughts out there as to how the industry can be improved; when people holding those different ideas fight it out in public, the power of each group to effect change is diluted.

As an addendum to this, we need to do a better job of talking, or maybe I should say we need to talk more. I know, we are all busy. Some weeks seem as if all I do is “meet,” but I need to carve out more time in my schedule to interact with others in the industry and broaden my contacts.

Follow through and follow-up to meetings, boards, commissions are extremely important if anything is to get done. When was the last time you talked about the Dairy Future Commission Report with a colleague? Which recommendation (or recommendations) have or can you vow to support?

Buy PA, buy local! I am working on a larger commitment to buy Pennsylvania and local products. Often, we see that grocery store chains can buy produce or other food products from other countries and states to market them at lower prices than our locally sourced food. I remember once in the summer when a supermarket in a Maryland resort town was offering tomatoes from Canada when the area was surrounded by local farm stands. I am working on learning how to balance my food budget to accommodate my resolution to purchase more PA and local products.

From my perch as Milk Marketing Board secretary, there are also some things that I can think about. Staff and I must continue to prioritize our commitment to customer service to our four constituent groups: producers, processors, retailers and consumers. We need to fill the consumer member position on the board that was vacated when I assumed my current role. Even though several of us have communicated the urgency of this to those in decision-making positions, we need to keep bringing this matter up for discussion until the new person is appointed and confirmed.

When Rob Barley and I were appointed to the board, we promised to listen and be proactive, providing leadership within the dairy industry in the commonwealth. Working with member Jim Van Blarcom, our efforts have borne some fruit, but there is more to do. The board and staff are committed to these leadership efforts. Above all, we want those working in the dairy industry to know and believe that MMB is an agency that will quickly respond to issues and needs within our legislated authority.

PMMB is always available to respond to questions and concerns. I can be reached at 717-210-8244 and by email at chardbarge@pa.gov

Carol Hardbarger is the secretary of the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board.

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