Cumberland County’s John Cope has been named the winner of the 2010 Obie Award, the top honor of the All-American Dairy Show. Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding will present the award at the show’s “got milk?” banquet on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Cope, of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, is a long-time leader in the Pennsylvania dairy industry and the state and national Holstein communities.

The award was established in memory of Obie Snider of Bedford County, a founding father of the All-American Dairy Show. It recognizes an individual who places significant value in service to the industry and community and displays high standards of conduct.

“Pennsylvania’s dairy industry was Obie’s passion to which he committed his life,” Redding said. “Obie would certainly be pleased to know that his vision of the All-American Dairy Show has exceeded expectations thanks to the generosity of people like John Cope.

“As a contemporary of Obie’s, John has witnessed the evolution of the show and has contributed to its growth through sponsorships over the years. He is the epitome of the kind of person the award was designed to recognize.”

Raised on a crop and livestock farm in Lancaster County, Cope graduated from Penn State in 1952 with a degree in agricultural economics.


Just before graduation, Cope was recruited by the owner of a dental supply company, who inherited several farms in south-central Pennsylvania, to establish a dairy business. Ashcombe Farm Dairy in Cumberland County and Ashcombe Dover Dairy in York County were formed, and Cope worked for the enterprise for 45 years.

Cope recalls visiting Obie Snider’s farm in Imler, Bedford County, to glean ideas from Snider’s jugging operation when developing the Ashcombe businesses. In the 1960s, Cope began a jugging business selling 12,000-13,000 gallons of milk a week from the two dairies’ more than 500 cows, as well as processing eggnog and ice cream.

Cope established the herd of Holsteins from breeding stock purchased at the National Holstein Convention, sparking his interest in registered cattle. Through the years, under the Ashcombe prefix, Cope marketed cattle in seven countries and became active in the Pennsylvania Holstein Association, where he served as treasurer, vice-president and president. Under his leadership, the association grew to more than 6,000 members in 1980, making it the largest state membership in the country.

Elected as a director to the National Holstein Association in the mid 1980s, Cope went on to serve a two-year term as president in 1995. During that time, he traveled to Germany, Holland, Japan and Mexico to help open international markets for U.S. cattle.

Cope and his wife Helen have four children and five grandchildren. Along with son, Doug, Cope also bought his own dairy farm where they milked 50 cows until a fire destroyed the facilities in the early 1990s.

When Rita Kennedy, president of the Pennsylvania Dairy and Allied Industries Association, called to congratulate Cope on winning the award, he was “a bit overwhelmed.”

“The All-American was a true labor of love for people like Obie, and took a great deal of work to get it off the ground,” Cope said. “It is an amazing showcase for dairy genetics, dairy organizations and dairy youth, and is a true testament and tribute to our state’s dairy industry.”

—From Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture news release

John Cope. Photo courtesy of Penn. Dept. of Ag.