Saving the Dairy Industry (Part 2)April 8, 2020
We wanted to share an update on the events that have transpired over the past week. While it’s been a challenging time for our organization, profession, and patron farmers, there have been some bright spots, too!
As a cooperative, all members share in the risks and rewards of the organization. Whether they have been a member for 100 years, or just a week, everyone receives equal treatment. During the good times, everyone is happy to share in the success. Bad times require that all members cooperate and make sacrifices for the good of all.
With some of our largest milk sale contracts canceled so abruptly we had a sudden oversupply of milk into our facility. In the true spirit of cooperation, the majority of our cooperative’s farmers have abided by our request to cut back on their milk production. This, and our own production facilities working at over capacity, has led to not a single one of our farms having to dump milk so far!
Our board members and CEO/Manager have been working to field calls from radio, television, and other media across the country. They were tasked with investigating the plight of the farmer during a time when dairy products in stores are unavailable or limited while the oversupply on the production-side is leading to milk dumping. They came to the right place, as any ripple in the nation’s food supply can be felt first at the farm. We were happy to educate them on our industry and the impact the nation’s COVID-19 cancelations, shut-downs, and stay at home orders have had on the supply chains. One particularly educational report came from Boyd Huppert of Twin Cities station, Kare 11.
The media reports sparked a consumer movement that was heartwarming and very much appreciated. Reports of purchase limits placed on dairy products in the grocery stores began pouring into the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin offices. Their team has been working to connect retailers with manufacturers and distributors to help redirect dairy supplies meant for foodservice purposes to the retail stores. This is no easy task as many foodservice products are packaged differently than how individual consumers tend to purchase them.
Orders began pouring into our own retail and online stores. Individuals and groups began launching dairy campaigns of their own in support of the dairy farmer. You may have seen Cody and Chelsea come across your news feed. Their Dairy Milk Challenge, with a goal of getting everyone to chug a cup of dairy milk, was inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Then there’s the group of area milk haulers who have been raising funds to bring cheese curds to area food shelves. We’re providing them with cheese curds at cost to support their efforts. So far over $10,000 has been raised, which equates to 5,000 pounds of cheese curds!
And we can go on… there are a lot of heroes coming to the forefront during this unprecedented time, giving the phrase, “we’re all in this together”, a new meaning. While our nation’s farmers are in no way out of the woods yet, they feel the love and support from the consumer and that has encouraged them – thank you!