April 2, 2020


US dairy farmers to dump milk on oversupply



The Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) has requested farmers who sell their milk to DFA to consider voluntary dumping of product amid a changing market during the COVID-19 pandemic.


"We started putting it down the drain (Tuesday) night," Tom Leedle, co-owner of Black Cat Dairy farm in Lake Geneva, said. "You do the best you can to have a good product, and it's a real hit in the gut that you can't sell it."


"With the uncertainty of COVID-19 and evolving consumer buying habits, we are seeing demand for dairy products change," Kristen Coady, vice president of corporate communications for the Dairy Farmers of America, stated.


Initially, there was an increase in demand at grocery stores in anticipation of shelter-in-place orders. However, that demand "is starting to level off," Coady said.


At the same time, demand for milk products decreased as a result of school and restaurant closures, which has resulted in an overall surplus of milk.


"These sudden changes in demand are resulting in uncertainty, and are forcing some dairy manufacturers to cut or change production schedules or build inventories," Coady said.


"Due to the excess milk and plants already operating at capacity, there is more milk right now than space available in processing plants. This, in combination with the perishable nature of our product, has resulted in a need to dispose of raw milk on farms, in some circumstances," she added.


Dairy farmers throughout Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties—and nationwide—have received similar calls and notices.


Roughly 75% of dairy farmers in the tri-county area in southeastern Wisconsin are part of the Foremost Farms-USA cooperative. They received a letter urging them to consider dumping milk amidst a collapsing market.