Tags: Coronavirus | Financial Markets | farm | milk | eggs | production | pandemic

Farms Dumping Milk, Eggs Each Day as Demand and Sales Plummet and Farmers Await US Aid

a glass of milk is being filled via pour
(Uwe Lein/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 09 April 2020 08:27 PM

Farms producing milk and eggs have been forced to dump a million pounds of their produce, with sales to restaurants plunging due to the coronavirus outbreak, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Dennis Rodenbaugh, executive vice president at the largest dairy cooperative in the country, Dairy Farmers of America, said as much as 7% of all milk produced in the U.S. in the last week was dumped. The group did say its members will get paid for milk that gets dumped, but these checks will be lower than usual.

Bob Wills, the founder of Milwaukee cheese factory Clock Shadow Creamery, said sales of their chévre and ricotta cheeses fell 95% in a single day, causing them to halt production and lay off every employee save one.

A lack of demand at restaurants, and at fast-food purveyors in particular, has been particularly damaging to the industry.

"Food service has hurt us tremendously," Keith Murfield, CEO of United Dairymen of Arizona, told Arizona Republic. "The product that goes to fast-food restaurants like cheese for McDonald's . . . was cut back."

He added limits on milk sales at grocery stores has not helped dairy farmers.

"I don't understand why they're putting limits," Murfield said. "There's capacity for more gallons to be produced."

"This is very difficult for the men and women producing milk. A lot of hard work goes into milking cows and when we can't get it off farm it has to go down the drain and that is very difficult," he continued.

"I've had 45 years in the business and I have never seen anything like this," Murfield said. 

The Trump administration aims to announce a plan, possibly next week, for how billions of dollars in aid to U.S. farmers will be allocated, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing sources familiar with discussions.

The virus relief bill Congress passed last month includes $23.5 billion in aid for farmers. So far, it hasn’t been clear how all of those funds will get doled out. The administration has now set a target to make more of those details available next week, the people said.

The move would come after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a conference call Wednesday he would like to distribute aid “sooner rather than later.”

Farmers and rural communities are a critical part of President Donald Trump’s political base as he seeks re-election this year, and the administration bolstered agriculture during the trade war with a $28 billion bailout.

USDA press representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the timing of the aid plan.

The Congressional legislation gives the USDA broad discretion on how to distribute the aid, though it directs the department to include dairy and livestock producers and growers of specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables.

Agriculture groups have been scrambling for a share of the aid. The American Farm Bureau Federation sent the USDA a six-page letter detailing requests sector by sector. Produce growers are seeking $5 billion. Dairy farmers have asked the government to pay producers to cut milk output and buy up cheese, butter and other dairy products for food banks. Biofuel makers also want aid after ethanol prices plunged.

The relief package was broken down into $9.5 billion in emergency funding and $14 billion provided to the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corp., a Depression-era entity the Trump administration has used for its farm-bailout programs in the past two years. Perdue said Wednesday the department could move quickly to distribute the first set of funds, but that the agency would have to wait until early summer to use the latter.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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After sales to restaurants plunged due to the coronavirus outbreak farms producing milk and eggs have been forced to dump a million pounds of their produce, The Wall Street Journal reported.
farm, milk, eggs, production, pandemic, waste, restaurants, super markets
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2020-27-09
Thursday, 09 April 2020 08:27 PM
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