Dairy Farmers Dumping Milk as Demand Vanishes

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 20: A half gallon of milk sits in a plastic bag at a Safeway grocery s
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The economic dislocation caused by the coronavirus has caused shortages of some consumer staples and crashing demand for others.

Many Americans have seen the bare aisles in grocery stores where toilet paper and paper towels were once sold. Less visible is the over-supply of gasoline, oil, and now milk.

In Texas, oil storage is in short supply as demand for oil has crashed while supply has continued in climb. And in dairy country, milk is now being dumped because demand has dried up.

Many dairy processing plants across Wisconsin have more product than they can handle and that’s forced farmers to begin dumping their milk down the drain.

That’s the case at Golden E Dairy near West Bend. Farmer Ryan Elbe told WISN-TV they are dumping about 30,000 gallons (113,562 litres) a day.

The coronavirus has dried up the marketplace for dairy products as restaurants, schools, and food service businesses have been closed. About one-third of the state’s dairy products, mostly cheese, are sold in the food-service trade.

The Journal Sentinel reports that Elbe’s cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to pay them for milk that’s being dumped. But like most cooperatives, DFA can only afford to do that for so long.

Elbe’s parents started the farm with 80 cows in 1991, an operation that has grown to 2,400 cows today.

–The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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