Forty-two Pennsylvania dairy farms scrambled in search for new markets after receiving contract termination notices about a month ago from Dean Foods, a national distributor based in Texas. Since then, two distributors in the state have entered agreements with some of those farms.

Harrisburg Dairies will pick up nine farms in the Lebanon-Lancaster area, while Schneider’s Dairy in Pittsburgh decided to take on four farms from Clarion and Venango counties. 

One of the nation’s largest dairy distributors is ending its contract with dozens of Pennsylvania dairy farms at the end of May — a decision that reflects challenges faced by the industry.

Two women in field
Alyssa Gurklis / Penn State's Student Farm

Chances are you have passed by Penn State’s one acre Student Farm without even knowing it.

“The farm site is located at a really interesting intersection of 322 and cow pasture," Leslie Pillen said. She points to the highway nearby. "So you have large trucks – semis – driving by on one side and cows – sometimes horses, too – on the other.”

Pillen is the coordinator of the new Penn State Student Farm. Coming from Nebraska and having a master’s degree in rural sociology, she plays an essential role at the farm.