Happy Holidays From the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board | Dairy News

We are closing in on the end of another year. It hasn’t been as chaotic as the preceding couple years, but there have been challenges.

Let’s put those aside for a moment so the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board and staff can wish you all happy holidays. Of course, I also want to remind you to have plenty of our fresh and nutritious Pennsylvania dairy products on hand such as butter, cream, ice cream and eggnog.

This year, the holidays see us with a smaller staff. Two of our auditors, Shaquanna Reddick and Chris Bediako-Anim, have both left us for other states. We will miss them and the smiles they always shared in our presence.

But we still have a strong operation with members willing and ready to help Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers.

Chairman Robert Barley remains the person who provides us with guidance and wisdom from his lengthy experience in the dairy industry. He came into the Milk Marketing Board office at the same time that I did, early 2018, and has approached the job with dedication and enthusiasm.

As a leader, he operates with an open-door policy, always ready to listen and understand what staff need to operate efficiently. Last year, Rob provided staff with beef raised on his farm as a holiday gift.

Member Jim Van Blarcom hails from the northern tier and brings a unique perspective to board deliberations. A life-long dairy farmer, Jim understands the struggles of his neighbors in their unique market, which is limited by geography.

Jim usually brings staff some cheese for a holiday gift when he attends our festive get-together. And we can always count on him to have several bottles of milk for board meetings. He and his wife, Darlene, are an important part of our office family.

Did I tell you that we play Dirty Santa at our holiday party? Don’t think I did. Such fun we have. Last year’s least popular gift was a blood pressure monitor kit. I think the most popular were a tree with lottery tickets and a restaurant gift certificate.

Kristi Kassimer is our newest board member, and she has embraced the staff. We look forward to spending our second holiday season with her and her family as she gets used to our holiday way of doing things.

Her candy gifts last year were much appreciated. We are happy that she is on the board and look to her for her special kind of guidance as our consumer member.

This year has brought us the addition of a new staff attorney, David Kuznia, who is fitting right in with the rest of the staff and quickly learn how complex the dairy industry is. Welcome, David, and we know that our legal guru and chief counsel Doug Eberly is glad to have you on board.

Our legislated responsibilities involve ensuring that Pennsylvania farmers are accurately paid for their milk and paid on time. Steven Zalman is our director of enforcement and accounting, working with the audit staff to make this happen.

Steven also works with Jon Dadigan, our special investigator, who follows up on violations of minimum pricing at the retail level. In addition, Jon monitors the submission of required monthly reports, so we can do what we are required to do by law.

Our auditors hold the key to our operations in that what they do on a monthly basis enables Steven, our legal team and me to know when a problem exists.

Milk Marketing Board auditors are experienced and knowledgeable about dairy pricing. The team includes Brian Brandt, Tom Latsko (team leader), Forrest Carlough (also an investigator) and Joe Wilson (accountant).

This group of auditors — supervised by Gary Gojsovich, an expert in dairy pricing — works hard so our farmers can be guaranteed accurate and timely payments.

Two other individuals work to make things run smoothly. Keith Hay is the person in charge of the board’s budget, the majority of our human resource functions and paying the bills. He also conducts monthly audits as needed and works with me on requisitions and other financial functions as they arise.

We couldn’t function without Fatima Roberge, the executive secretary to the board. I usually refer to her as the “glue that holds us all together.” And she is.

Then there is me. I could not do any of the work I do without the individuals mentioned above. I am the luckiest secretary in the commonwealth.

We are small in number but get a lot done. We care about the dairy industry and are all involved in it.

As a group, we wish you the happiest, happiest and most peaceful holidays. Like you, we all relish the opportunity that the season brings us to engage with family and friends and to become energized for the tasks of the coming year.

From PMMB and staff, happy holidays and a blessed new year.

PMMB is always available to respond to questions and concerns. I can be reached at 717-210-8244 and by phone at chardbarge@pa.gov.


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