Dairy farmers forced to dump milk due to low demand and closures

Local News

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — Farmers across the country are struggling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the hardest-hit are dairy farmers.

Even though low prices and high demand is causing milk to fly off the shelves in grocery stores, the pandemic has caused a shift leaving some dairy farmers forced to dump hundreds of thousands of gallons of milk down the drain.

“Like anybody else, it’s been a struggle to be able to move forward,” CEO of American Dairy Association Indiana Jenni Browning said. “A lot of that is that you are seeing different reports out there that there’s not enough milk in the grocery store and then also seeing that there’s too much milk at the plant or on the farm.”

According to the American Dairy Association Indiana, Inc. the state is home to more than 800 dairy farms. Browning says part of the reason for milk dumping is that though shoppers cleared out milk at the grocery stores a couple of weeks ago that’s not making up for the closure of restaurants and schools. Seven percent of milk goes to schools and foodservice, like restaurants, account for 40 percent cheese usages. Browning says there is no way to know how much loss the dairy industry is seeing.

Another problem contributing to the dumping of milk is that some stores have limited the amount of milk and/or milk-based products customers can buy at the store. This has left some to think there is a shortage of milk. However, that’s far from the truth.

“Some of the people affected are daycares,” Browning said. “Some of the daycares are small to where they don’t have milk deliveries so they usually go to the grocery stores and pick up large amounts of milk. If they have milk limits they can’t do that.”

The American Dairy Association Indiana, Inc. is working with processors to get milk readily available, even hosting a dairy bar at the state fairgrounds to give milk to daycare workers and others in need.

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association has been around for over 125 years and help dairy production in 19 states including Indiana and helps gives farmers a voice at the state and national level. Not only has the organization seen state dumping milk and stores limiting purchases, but they’ve also seen large decrease countries buying dairy products.

“The whole world is sort of frozen on trading,” Executive Director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association John Umhoefer said. “About 15 percent of the dairy products made in the United States go to export. So not only have we lost enormous restaurant opportunities and schools and industries, exports are way down.”

One way you can help farmers is by buying an extra gallon of milk or milk-based products like cheese when you go to the store. If you find stores that are limiting the amount of milk and/or milk-based products you can contact the American Dairy Association, Indiana, via their Facebook page or their website.

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