GREENVILLE — “Frustration” was the keyword regarding area dairy farmers faced with dumping their hard work, money, and food down the drain on Monday.
Sam Custer, Interim Assistant Director Agriculture and Natural Resources for Ohio State University Extension and Darke County OSU extension educator, provided information on the recent development shared in the news and on social media. The stories and pictures of dairy farmers forced to dump milk during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to Custer, for the state of Ohio, it began when dairymen were told there was no room at processing plants — the silos full — in the Cleveland area last Thursday.
Those farmers, with no other storage options for their raw milk, had to dump it.
At first, the lack of space at processing plants did not appear to be affecting the 37 Darke County dairy farmers. However, by Monday, they too were forced to dump their raw milk.
Ohio is not the only state faced with this dilemma as it also affects dairy farmers around the country and all for similar reasons. A collision of factors making for a perfect storm as stores limit the purchase of milk to significant purchasers of dairy products such as schools and restaurants now closed due to COVID-19. To make matters worse, dairy farmers initially geared up for what they thought would be a considerable milk movement.
“It’s really changed the market,” explained Custer on the effects of COVID-19, emphasizing farmers’ frustration with the supply chain, which is similar to the lack of toilet paper on store shelves. There are plenty of products; only it is not getting to the right locations.
After pushback in the media, along with questions from area farmers, co-ops, processors, and those in the supply chain looked for other places to take the raw milk. They also had conversations with grocery stores to remove their purchasing limits, explaining there is plenty of milk. Their efforts appear to have paid off as there was no milk dumping on Tuesday.
Still, “It is a day to day situation,” said Custer on whether dairy farmers will have their milk picked up or be forced to dump it.
It’s devastating, continued Custer as farmers never dreamed of seeing not only wasted food but the loss in earnings as well as a hard work going down the drain, resulting in a wide range of emotions similar to that of the grieving process.
“First really sad, today asking why and tomorrow [they] may be angry,” said Custer.