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Why are U.S. dairy farmers having to dump their milk during the pandemic?

  • The closing of restaurants and schools has hurt the dairy industry
  • Dairy farmers are having a hard time finding enough drivers 
  • Still, milk demand at grocery stores has gone up

During the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. dairy farmers are facing issues like decreased demand as schools and restaurants shutter their doors and logistical problems like not enough drivers. Those are the major reasons why farmers have been having to dump their milk before it can reach consumers. 

Restaurants and schools are some of the main markets for dairy farmers. Now that they’re closed, dairy farmers have said it’s difficult to fill the gap. If they want to sell the milk in grocery stores instead, they have to go through extra hurdles to repackage the milk and find drivers to deliver their product who are willing to work despite the pandemic. 

The farmers also have to move quickly. Milk goes bad quickly in comparison to food products like meats and grains. Because of this, some dairy cooperatives aren’t giving their farmers a choice. They’re telling them to get rid of their products, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared that it won’t punish the farmers who have to do so.

While farmers are dumping their milk, people are flocking to stores looking for it, especially as people prepare for coronavirus lockdowns. To help meet people’s needs, the dairy cooperatives are looking for other solutions outside of dumping, such as selling milk to the federal government or donating it. 

Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg, USDA 


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