Dairy farmers across the U.S. are feeling the negative effects from the Coronavirus pandemic — and many have been forced to dump perfectly good milk down the drain.
While initial panic buying during the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in increased demand for milk and dairy products, the closure of schools, restaurants, and other businesses has caused problems with supply and demand that has forced farmers to start dumping milk.
Dairy Farmers of America explained the circumstances that led to the dumping in an April 3 statement:
While there was an initial increase in demand at grocery stores as consumers stocked up on many products, like dairy, the retail demand has now dropped. So you should see milk more readily available at the grocery stores in the coming weeks.
However, also during this time, foodservice sales rapidly declined due to schools and restaurants closing. Market analysts estimate that around half of butter and cheese consumed is through restaurants.
These sudden changes, along with other uncertainties, have forced some dairy manufacturers to cut or change production schedules or build inventories. With plants operating at capacity or on a reduced schedule, there is more milk right now than space available in processing plants.
Before milk can be sold in stores or turned into product, it must undergo processing. This, in combination with the perishable nature of our product, has resulted in a need to dispose of raw milk on farms, as a last resort.
At this time, our family farm-owners continue to receive payment even if they have to dispose of their milk.
Indiana-based Obert Farms, Inc. shared a recent Facebook post that pointed out that “many grocery stores are currently limiting the amount of milk a consumer can purchase, which leaves all the supply, but no demand to keep processing our products.” Obert Farms said that they’d dumped 30,000 pounds of milk in just a couple of days.
Social media has been bombarded with photos and videos of farmers dumping milk as groups try to raise public awareness about the effect that the pandemic has had on their industry.
— Mark Johnson (@MarkyJFox10) April 6, 2020