Dairy farmers forced to dump their milk as demands drop dramatically

Mark Abrams
April 02, 2020 - 4:45 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Dairy farmers in some parts of Southeastern Pennsylvania were forced to dump tens of thousands of gallons of milk this week because the dairies they feed were full.

Federal agricultural officials approved the disposal of the raw milk at dairy farms in the region because milk processors were simply unable to accept it.

A survey of dairy farms in Berks and Lancaster counties found they dumped tens of thousands of gallons of milk in just the past few days.

Emily Barge, a spokeswoman for the Center for Dairy Excellence, said it is a chaotic time for dairy farmers.

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“There’s just a big imbalance in the normal supply and demand right now and so the results for some farms across the state is that milk has no home and has to be dumped, unfortunately,” Barge explained. 

Barge said at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, milk was hard to find in grocery stores because of panic-buying. But now, the market has settled and the big dairies have been restocking store coolers regularly.

But she said with schools and colleges and restaurants shuttered, dairy deliveries have temporarily been lost. Her group is working closely with the affected farmers in the event federal aid becomes available.

“If they do have to dump milk, making sure that they’re recording it so when the details do come out about what relief is offered that they are able to measure how much they did have to dump to hopefully get reimbursed for some of that,” she said. 

She said the coronavirus has changed the dairy industry’s business model for now. 

“So the challenge is really to keep the milk moving to market in the middle of the crisis. There are solutions in place to try to get some of the milk to food banks when they can and those types of things.”