milk

Alisha Risser owns and runs a dairy farm in Lebanon county. Having been in the business for 17 years, Risser said consistently low milk prices in recent years have been really hard for farmers.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Along stretches of farmland on South Lincoln Avenue in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, you will notice yard signs with bright orange letters that read, “SAVE OUR LOCAL DAIRY FARMS.”

Alisha Risser owns one of those dairy farms.

Seventeen years ago, Risser and her husband started a contract with Swiss Premium, a brand of the national distributor Dean Foods. In those days, Risser said business was good.

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.