Skip to comments.Wisconsin dairy industry calls for help as farmers forced to dump milk amid COVID-19 pandemic
Posted on 04/05/2020 3:27:13 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
Wisconsins dairy industry is calling for federal help as farmers have begun dumping milk because of falling demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite empty grocery store shelves in recent weeks, widespread closures of schools and restaurants coupled with falling exports have led to a sharp drop in demand.
This is without precedent, said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Half the restaurants in the U.S. are closed or operating at a reduced level. That has never happened before.
With more than they can sell, processors are refusing to pick up milk from farmers, who are left to dump it into manure pits or spread it on fields.
Were not the kind of factory that can just turn out the lights, said Gordon Speirs, owner of the 2,100-cow Shiloh Dairy in Brillion.
The Cheese Makers Association and Dairy Business Association are calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide direct aid and make a massive dairy commodity purchase that could be distributed to food pantries.
We have a lot of cheese in storage, Tim Trotter, executive director of the Dairy Business Association. Lets get it to the people who need it.
Rebekah Sweeney, director of communications and policy for the Cheese Makers Association, said U.S. dairy exports, which account for about 15% of sales, have been wiped out since the onset of the new coronavirus that has sickened more than 1 million people and killed tens of thousands worldwide.
And processors have lost a third to one half of their business in recent weeks as schools, restaurants and other institutions were shut down in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
On top of that, Sweeney said, retail orders have begun to level off after an initial wave of consumer panic buying wiped out grocery store supplies.
The market crash comes just as many farmers are readying for spring planting and on the heels of a year in which one out of 10 dairy farms went out of business.
This year was to be the rebound year, Trotter said. Now we see even more devastating outcomes for dairy farmers.
Speirs said farm income was already down 25% in the past several weeks.
Now we face the reality of having to dump milk on top of that, he said.
Its not clear yet how many farmers have dumped milk , but Trotter said there have been some verified reports and he expects it to continue.
Thats changing by the hour, Trotter said.
Chris Clayton, chief of the agricultural runoff section for the Department of Natural Resources, said the agency began receiving questions Wednesday after some processors ordered certain dairies to dump milk.
With a higher concentration of nutrients than manure, milk is considered a pollutant that can lead to fish kills and other problems in lakes, streams and rivers. The DNR last week issued guidance for farmers faced with the last resort option of emergency milk disposal and has relaxed some regulations.
The preferred option is to place it in manure storage if they have the space for it, Clayton said. The farmers do not need permission from the department to store milk in manure storage.
If manure pits are full, farmers are asked to spread it on fields according to their nutrient management plans preferably on fields with perennial crops and not on sandy soil or fields with shallow groundwater.
The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has advised farmers to record any milk disposals to help claim any government aid that becomes available.
Milk is being dumped here in PA as well
No Milk, No Cheese. Know Milk, Know Cheese!
This national hysteria HAS to stop!
I hope the dairy farmers obtain some financial assistance quickly. That said, it’s interesting that some will dispose of the extra milk by spreading it over the land. I would have thought decayed milk products would only pollute and degrade the soils. Maybe that is not so. Gotta put it somewhere.
It’s a shame all the way around, though.
We ALL need to get back to work! With each passing day, I trust Mother Government less and less!
Milk is being dumped here in PA as well
Odd. Milk is nearly sold out here in Florida. Me thinks this is another industry theatrically fishing for a bailout. Milk industry has been under heavy pressure and it has nothing to do with the Wu Flu.
Idiots like Michelle Obama are out there telling people not to buy foods covered by WIC. Already some dairy farmers have having to dump their milk.
Busybody Michael just adding to thew trouble.
It’s calcium and that’s good for soil and all growing things.
Runoff, though? Not so much. :(
They need to be super careful with dumping it right back on the land...and for the most part, crop land already gets enough nutrients from all the manure that’s spread on it, already.
Curious to see what the fallout is on this. ‘The Great Cheese Shortage of 2021?’ That would suck. Bigly!
Guv is always worse than the actual crisis.
“This national hysteria HAS to stop!”
I couldn’t agree with you MORE! :)
Milk can be turned into cheese and stored for long lengths of time. I am tired of paying $4/pound for cheddar cheese. I am tired of the selection of cheddar cheese brands being only three suppliers. The gourmet cheeses are even more expensive.
This dumping of milk is the result of greedy suppliers keeping the supply down artificially. Maybe, in the instance of oil prices, they should dump oil. That’s the ticket.
Welcome to the big decoupling. Bye, bye, globalism.
Can’t they just make it into cheese and store it underground against better times?
That’s what I thought as well. Make more cheese. Make baby formula. Dehydrate it and store it, or donate it to the poor, or sell it overseas at cost.
“He said, Blessed are the cheesemakers! But it applies to the makers of all dairy products.”
(You knew someone had to post this...)
Cheese makers have to have enough capital to buy and store.
For the farmer, milk already is selling lees than cost of production.
Some milk is being dumped all over the country, but its not a huge amount yet.
The 2nd, 3rd and higher consequences of this virus attack are gonna take a long time to recover from...and at a tremendous cost.
IF the domestic communists (DNC and their DS ilk) are proven to be in collusion with the CCP over this mess, there needs to be mass public hangings like never before.
Funny because just a little while ago milk sections were almost completely empty.
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