The coronavirus panic has hit America hard, as restaurants and bars close, and people practice social distancing to stem the spread of the virus. As shoppers make runs on basic household goods like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bleach, and groceries like eggs and milk, grocery stores all across America have taken to limiting purchases. Signs are now common that instruct shoppers that they can only purchase a certain number of packages of noodles, or jugs of milk, per day. So why are dairy farmers being told to dump huge amounts of milk instead of shipping it to distribution centers?
Farmers have posted photos and videos like these all across America’s heartland:
AgPro Magazine reports:
From Georgia to Pennsylvania, videos like this are flooding social media. Dairy producers are facing a devastating scenario and being forced to dump milk down the drain. For some dairy farmers, this marks a first.
“This is the first time in the 32 years I’ve been in business that we’ve had to dump milk in the fields,” says Arnie VanDieden, a dairy producer in Texas.
The Texas producer isn’t alone. Paul Hartman in Reading, Penn. has also been in the business more than 30 years and faced a similar scenario earlier this week.
“Our dairy processor told us on Monday,” says Hartman. “They gave a letter that the driver dropped off that said they were supposed to dump our milk for the next two days; they weren’t going to pick it up. Right away when we heard it, we were shocked. All we hear is the milk is in demand, the stores are having trouble getting it, and then all of a sudden, they’re asking us to dump our milk. So that was kind of confusing.”
It seems counterintuitive that America’s dairy producers force farmers to dispose of their milk at the very time when it’s become harder and harder to find at grocery stores across the country. Despite record-high demand in the consumer market, it has not filled the crater left in the wholesale market. As restaurants close all over America, wholesale markets for dairy products have largely shut down.
Transitioning the supply chain from wholesale to retail markets has proven challenging. On top of that, retail markets have not kept up, resulting in gluts of milk on the market. In a time when grocery stores have shortages of a lot of different items, dairy farmers have no choice but to dump their supplies.
This farmer explains what’s going on (stand by for an adorable shot of a cow comforting him with a big lick on the arm):