Science | April 6, 2020 6:46 am

Coronavirus Prompts Dairy Farmers to Destroy Fresh Milk

Turns out there's an understandable explanation for it

Milk production
What could make milk production more complicated? The coronavirus.
bauernverband/Creative Commons

Here’s one of the biggest paradoxes that’s arisen from the ongoing pandemic: if you attempt to get certain types of groceries or other supplies, you might find it nearly impossible. At the same time, milk producers are finding themselves in the unenviable position of having to dump out their stock, lacking a an outlet where they can use it.

At Earther, Jody Serrano looked into this phenomenon. And, like so many other things causing issues in the United States and elsewhere, the problem at hand involves the supply chain. Serrano explains the gist of it here:

According to experts, the biggest hit has come from the closure of schools, restaurants and food service outlets, which are big consumers of milk and other related products like butter or cheese. This left dairy processors, the link between the farm and the consumer, with a big problem.

The dairy processors are left in a position where they can’t take any more milk — which leaves dairy farmers with a perishable product for which they have few options. Hence, the mass dumping.

Several cooperatives have instructed their members to dump milk while still paying them for the milk in question — but Serrano’s article notes that this practice may not be sustainable in the long run. It’s prompted industry groups to petition the USDA in search of governmental relief — but whether that will be in the cards for them remains to be seen.

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