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Pennsylvania dairy bottles own milk to make it through pandemic


For the past month, consumers have watched the coronavirus pandemic rip through the agriculture industry, leaving its fiercest impact on the dairy industry. However, like so many farmers and ranchers, diary farmers are innovative and creative. They will do everything in their power to work with the hand they have been dealt and avoid dumping milk whenever they can. Insert the Whoa Nellie Dairy Farm — with their backs against the walls, they reached out to their local community, and the community delivered! 

Last month, Whoa Nellie Dairy posted the following on their Facebook page. “As many of you know, all the excess milk we do not bottle is shipped to Schneider’s in Pittsburgh, PA. They have just contacted us and told us they WILL NOT be picking up our milk on Wednesday or Friday. (They pick up our milk every other day.) That means they are asking us to dump down the drain a total of 12 milkings!”

That announcement totally gutted the diary company — as it has for every dairy farmer who received that call across the country. Not only do farmers hate dumping milk along with their hard work, but they also don’t get paid for the dumped gallons. 

Determined not to dump any milk, Whoa Nellie Diary decided to expand their bottling system. The Facebook post continued, “We can only pasteurize and bottle 30 gallons at a time, but we are going to work around the clock to try and bottle as much as we can this week. We are REALLY going to try to not waste a drop! So, we are going to open up our farm store on Wednesday now too!”

And just like that, the local diary generated 1,300 shares on Facebook — reaching many consumers in their local community, and beyond. The dairy farmers started to work around the clock, 24/7 due to the increased demand from the public — the community came out to support the diary by the hundreds. Every day that the farm store opens to the public, the community shows up to support the diary farmers and in hours, the farm store is sold out. 

In order to increase their bottling process, Whoa Nellie Dairy was finally able to secure a bigger vat pasteurizer. On its Facebook page, the diary announced: “The 45 gallon vat we have been in the works of getting for months arrived today! We will now be able to pasteurize 45 gallons at a time instead of 30. We are hoping to be able to serve more and not sell out. I’m still in complete awe of what’s happened here at our farm. We appreciate all of our customers so much!  THANK YOU!”

Ben and Mary Beth Brown, owners of Whoa Nellie Dairy, have done a great job of keeping their dairy farm operational. Brown told a local newspaper that the farm has been in the Brown family since the 1700s. 

To help keep the supporters entertained, Whoa Nelli Dairy even brought out a dairy calf to thank everyone.  Image courtesy of Whoa Nellie Dairy, Facebook
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