The Center for Dairy Excellence presented three Pacesetter Awards at the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit in Lancaster. The awards were presented to Jeff Raney from Adamsville, Crawford County; Brubaker Farms of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, and Central Pennsylvania Food Bank of Harrisburg, Dauphin County.
The Pacesetter Award recognizes individuals or organizations that work to build a positive image of the Pennsylvania dairy industry to create a marketable future for producers and supporting industries. The awards were presented by center board members Gary Heckman and Don Risser.
Jeff Raney received the Pacesetter Award because of his excellence in herd management and planning for the future, as well as his dedication to industry and community service.
Jeff was born in New Castle, Pa., and was always interested in farming. In high school, he became involved in FFA and served as the Pennsylvania State FFA Vice President in 1974, helping to develop the leadership qualities.
In 1984, he and his wife Brenda were given an opportunity to farm on their own when John Vanderstappen saw promise in Jeff and offered a plan for transition, including carrying the mortgage for their start. Jeff and Brenda initially purchased the cattle and equipment, then purchased the farm in 1990. The herd of grade cows was transitioned to an all registered herd of Holsteins with the prefix J RA Holsteins.
In 2003, the Raneys purchased a second farm, which became the home of son Adam and his wife Michele, while providing additional housing for dry cows and heifers. In 2013, the Raneys built a tunnel ventilated freestall barn with a strong focus on cow comfort. Jeff and Adam believed that if their focus was on cow comfort, it would improve milk production and quality, as well as overall herd health. This also allowed for herd expansion, with the next goal being to build a new milking facility.
The J-RA herd is milking 26,044 pounds of milk with 998 pounds of fat and 808 pounds of protein. The herd also holds a BAA of 109.
Brubaker Farms received the award for their commitment to environmental stewardship, innovation and growth, and excellence and leadership within the industry. The operation now has more than 950 dairy cows, producing an average of 25 million pounds of milk each year, 600+ young stock, and also a 48,000 bird broiler chicken operation.
Ninety percent of Brubaker Farms’ crop acreage is no-till for ideal soil conservation and the development rights for the farm have been restricted in perpetuity by the family through a conservation easement.
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank was honored for its approach to opening new markets for dairy. Like most other food banks, historically the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank has struggled to supply one of its most-requested items: milk. In June 2014, the Food Bank announced a milk distribution program.
Through the newly formed public-private partnership with the PA Department of Agriculture, Harrisburg Dairies, the Pennsylvania Association of Milk Dealers, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Center for Dairy Excellence, milk is shipped to Harrisburg Dairies and Schneider’s Dairies by Pennsylvania dairy farmers to be processed for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
The Food Bank now acquires refrigerated fluid milk at a significantly discounted price and this allows the Food Bank to better serve Pennsylvanians who use the Food Bank’s services. The Food Bank is now distributing more than 3,000 quarts of low-fat refrigerated milk each week, with plans to grow this to 5,000 quarts weekly by July, 2015.
To support the new milk distribution program, the Fill a Glass with Hope campaign kicked off in January at the 99th PA Farm Show in Harrisburg. Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Executive Director Joe Arthur was joined by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association to unveil the campaign, encouraging visitors to donate and raise funds for the milk distribution program. Numerous other partners stepped up to sponsor the campaign, with the goal to raise $100,000 in 2015 to help Food Bank reach its goal of distributing 5,000 quarts of fresh milk weekly.