Dairy farms dump milk as coronavirus crisis spoils demand

Dairy farmers are dumping giant loads of milk down the drain as the coronavirus crisis spoils demand for products like butter and cheese.

Farmers say they’ve been left with nowhere to send their raw milk now that widespread closures of schools, restaurants and other businesses have shut dairy processors out of some of their largest markets.

That means some farmers have no choice but to let their milk gush out of giant tanks and go to waste, according to recent videos posted to social media.

“Watching your hard work literally go down the drain is heart wrenching — the wasted product represents our livelihood and the massive amount of hard work that takes place year round to produce it,” Nikki Boxler, whose family runs the Boxler Dairy Farm in upstate New York, wrote in a Sunday Facebook post.

Providence Dairy in Climax, Georgia, said it had dumped four loads of milk by Friday morning, including 50,000 pounds shown rushing out of a spigot in a video the farm shared on Facebook last week.

The farm said it was told that plants were at “maximum capacity” as restaurants and grocery stores scaled back dairy orders amid lockdown measures aimed at stopping the coronavirus.

Wisconsin dairy farmers have also sounded alarms about the plummeting demand. Several dairy groups there called on the US Department of Agriculture last week to purchase products such as dry milk, butter and cheese to help keep the industry afloat.

Retail sales of dairy spiked in recent weeks amid a wave of panic shopping, but they’re now leveling off and orders are slowing down, according to an April 1 letter the groups wrote to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“Commodity dairy prices have plummeted and will result in milk prices lower than many farms can handle to sustain long-term viability,” the letter reads. “Direct relief to dairy farmers and a substantial purchase of dairy commodities by USDA can ensure our industry will remain fiscally able to function in its primary role of feeding the nation and the world.”

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