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Milk Marketing Board's Carol Hardbarger Retires
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 09/18/2023

Carol Hardbarger, who served as the executive secretary for the Milk Marketing Board, has retired after making significant contributions to the dairy industry in Pennsylvania. During her tenure, she helped rebuild trust between the board and farmers, fostering better communication and understanding of the board's role. Hardbarger's weekly column, "Milk Matters," in Lancaster Farming played a pivotal role in explaining the board's actions and addressing concerns raised by farmers. She also successfully implemented administrative projects, including an online portal for license applications and payments, to enhance the board's credibility.

One of Hardbarger's key achievements was addressing the issue of over-order premium transparency. The board required cooperatives to report the premium amount on farmers' milk checks, reducing complaints from farmers who believed the board was not enforcing regulations on cooperatives as it did on independent processors. The board's negotiations during the Dean Foods bankruptcy in 2020 further demonstrated its commitment to farmers.

Despite her successes, Hardbarger expressed disappointment at not gaining traction for her proposed rapid response team to address dairy industry crises. She also wished for more progress in building consensus among competing interests within the dairy sector.

A Pennsylvania native with a background in agriculture, Hardbarger spent her summers on a dairy farm and later taught agriculture and science in public schools. She played a crucial role in developing national standards for agricultural education in the late 1990s. At the Milk Marketing Board, her background in agriculture and change management helped identify the board's needs and communicate solutions effectively.

One of her final projects involved a study on the role of minimum milk pricing in Pennsylvania. The results of the study by consultant Ken Bailey are expected in the fall and will help assess the impact of minimum pricing on consumers' milk purchases.

In retirement, Hardbarger looks forward to spending more time with her family, particularly her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. While she will no longer serve as the executive secretary, she plans to continue writing for Lancaster Farming, offering her thoughts on Pennsylvania's dairy industry and agriculture in general in a monthly column starting on November 4.

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