The last six months have greatly impacted dairy farms. With shoppers being limited on their milk purchases during the quarantine period and a 50% demand reduction at restaurants, farmers found themselves forced to dump good milk. About 10% of the milk produced had nowhere to be delivered, causing farmers to discard excess productions and cut their losses.
The Loss: According to New York dairy farmer Chris Noble, the price of milk before the effects of COVID-19 was around $18 to $20 per hundredweight. During the peak of the pandemic, prices dropped to about $10 to $11. CEO of International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Michael Dykes says that the dairy industry saw a $10 billion loss. The price of milk has since come up, though the industry has not fully recovered.
The Rebuilding: Thanks to federal stimulus funds, many dairy farmers received helpful aid during their profit losses. Some states have also provided additional programs to reimburse farmers for dumped milk. Some processors began delivering milk directly to retailers instead of restaurants, helping to increase their sales. Now, dairy farmers are seeing a 10% increase in retail sales as more people are home more often, increasing the retail demand for milk.
The dairy industry continues to face uncertainty with many restaurants still shut down or not at full capacity. Farmers are hopeful as prices increase, remaining positive and actively pursuing new ways to thrive.
Learn More: From Dumping Dairy to Improved Prices, How Dairy Produced a Rapid Recovery from COVID-19