Dairy farmers call for action after having to dump excess milk
Dairy farmers have been reported to be dumping milk as demand from retailers drops due to COVID-19, and the WDA has called on the US government to act now.
According to the Wisconsin Dairy Alliance (WDA), which represents modern regulated dairy farms in Wisconsin, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a rift in the dairy industry. “We are witnessing the decimation of the dairy industry. The crisis playing out before our eyes is staggering,” it wrote in a statement.
Dairy farmers have been reported to be dumping milk into fields and down drains as retailers limit consumer dairy purchases. “Farmers are left questioning if the milk they produce will be get picked up or if they will even get paid. The amount of fear and uncertainty surrounding our industry today is unprecedented,” the statement continued.
The shutdown of schools, restaurants and coffee shops is said to have had the biggest impact of major dairy markets, leaving cheesemakers and milk processors with surplus produce.
As a result, the WDA has called for “prompt action” to save the industry. “We need to look at the entire supply chain and put our dollars and efforts into finding solutions in processing and distribution to get our dairy products to those who need them most. The solution lies in the immediate movement of our cheese inventory,” the statement read.
“The people we serve and the charitable food system in the United States are facing a ‘Perfect Storm,’ with surges in demand, declines in food donations and volunteers, and disruptions to normal operating procedures, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, a non-profit network of more than 200 food banks. “It is all of our neighbours who now more than ever need help putting food on their tables.”
“We have the ability to remediate this, but time is of the essence. At the farm level, there is ample milk ready and available for use in processing. At the other end of our supply chain, food banks, pantries and shelters all have a desperate call for dairy products.”
WDA has asked the US government to use disaster funds to buy cheese inventory that is in storage and package it into consumer-sized portions, and delivered in real time to the food banks, pantries and shelters for the people who need them most.
“Producers must remain in business, and economically at-risk people must have access to high quality dairy protein. We can accomplish this. America cannot afford to cut its own throat. Ensuring food security for tomorrow will require a patriotic investment in the dairy industry today. We are calling on Secretary Perdue and The White House to act now.”
Similarly, the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) is calling on the UK government to help fund a short-term financial support scheme for dairy farmers whose businesses have been affected by the virus.
The Association has put forward plans asking the government to reimburse dairy farmers who are receiving a significantly reduced value or are having to dispose of their milk as a result of their processor being heavily reliant on the food service sector.
It is thought about 300 dairy farmers will be eligible for reimbursement if the scheme is approved, equating to about one million litres of milk being produced a day.