Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act helped boost two PA Dairy farmers’ yogurt business. Now its funding is at risk.

inflation reduction act

Screenshot of the Painterland Farms in Tioga County

By Sean Kitchen

June 21, 2024

The Inflation Reduction Act helped two Northern Pennsylvania sisters expand their dairy farm and Icelandic yogurt business through the Farm Bill. Now that funding is at risk thanks to a Republican controlled US House. 

Hayley and Stephanie Painter, the co-founders of Painterland Sisters, are a duo of dairy farmers using their voices pushing Congress to keep conservation and climate change combating provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act in the annual Farm Bill. 

In May, the Farm, Food and National Security Act, was introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.), while it proposed investments in conservation by protecting Inflation Reduction Act agriculture conservation funding – it failed to include the climate guardrails associated with that funding.

The Painter sisters help operate a fourth generation dairy farm in Tioga County and produce Painterland Sisters organic skyr yogurt, an Icelandic-style yogurt that can be found in supermarkets across the country, at a dairy facility outside of Carlise. 

“We started Painter Land Sisters as a way to connect consumers to the farmers and to stabilize our farm and the other farms for generations,” Hayley Painter told The Keystone in an interview.  

The Painters’ farm participates in a $4.7 million Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) program that tracks paddocks, a fenced-off pasture where cows can graze, and how organic dairy farming helps sequester harmful greenhouse gasses.

“Ruminate animals are so intrinsic to working with the land by walking over it, by grazing with it, and that’s how they intermingle and actually help create a thriving ecosystem,” Hayley Painter explained. 

“Putting the cows back outside and supporting their natural ability to graze intensively and properly, and in that way we’re really adding research to why it’s important to the environment, how it’s better for the animals and how farmers can implement those.” 

According to the DGA, they will provide technical assistance and $900,000 of direct payment to small-scale dairy farmers to implement climate-smart grazing practices.  

Funding for the program comes from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Partnerships for Climate-Smart Technologies grant program, which was created under the Inflation Reduction Act and aims to support over 180,000 farmers in the next five years.

“It’s really empowering for farmers to be able to be looked at as climate smart leaders because a lot of times for so long they weren’t looked at as that, but farmers are truly the stewards of the land,” Hayley Painter said. 

“They’re the stewards of our animals, they’re the stewards of our food systems, and by empowering farmers through opportunities like these Climate Smart grants, through the infrastructure grants and through the marketing grants that the Farm Bill acknowledges, it’s really switching the conversation and empowering the farmers instead of just looking at them as a tool to provide food, fiber and fuel for us.”

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

CATEGORIES: CLIMATE
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