Dairy Farmers Across the Country are Disposing Milk
While grocery store shelves are barren nationwide, farmers are dumping milk across the country. Though the FDA has assured the public there are no food shortages, groceries are in short supply. According to the FDA, this has been caused by people panic buying groceries and switching to groceries as their main food source, instead of eating out at restaurants. Restaurants, businesses, and schools that typically support the milk industry and buy large quantities of milk have closed due to COVID-19 and thus no longer require milk. Not only have the buyers of milk closed, but there has also been a shortage of available milk trucks and milk processing plants. Processing plants across the country are being forced to close due to Coronavirus concerns. An outbreak has already occurred among workers in a meat plant of Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, identifying approximately 600 workers infected with the Coronavirus.
Although nonprofits, such as homeless shelters and food banks, are desperate for milk, the cost of packaging and labeling milk is too expensive for farmers who have already lost the majority of their income during the pandemic. The cheapest and most efficient way to dispose of excess milk is by dumping it. According to the Dairy Farmers of America, a major dairy cooperative, approximately 2.7 million to 3.7 million gallons of milk are dumped per day. Dumping milk is a difficult decision for farmers who have already been facing a decrease in income for years. The milk industry has been struggling for the past four years, suffering from increased tariffs, decreased milk prices, and an oversupply. The National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association are working to support the milk industry by asking for government assistance. If they succeed, the USDA would refund farmers for all product they have been forced to dispose of, and additionally, the USDA would purchase and donate to nonprofits the milk that farmers would otherwise dump. In light of these problems, dairy groups are asking consumers to consider buying more dairy products to support the industry in this time of crisis.