Last year Wisconsin lost nearly 800 dairy farms, or nearly 10% of the farms. The COVID-19 pandemic is making matters worse, as evidenced by reports of farmers dumping milk. Per USA Today, Dennis Rodenbaugh, executive vice president at Dairy Farmers of America, the largest U.S. dairy cooperative, told the Wall Street Journal for an April 9 story that as much as 7% of the milk produced in the U.S. the prior week was dumped. This video explains some of the reasons why. Schools represent approximately 7% of milk consumption, and most of them have moved to online instruction. Early in the pandemic there were shortages of milk in retail stores, which were partly due to a lack of bottling lines set up to fill plastic jugs instead of the small cardboard containers used in schools. Restaurants in many parts of the nation are not currently able to serve dine-in customers, reducing the consumption of milk as well as non-liquid dairy products such as butter, sour cream, and cheese.
As was indicated in a previous Banner post, Whitewater Future Farmers of America (FFA) is selling yard signs supporting dairy farmers. The proceeds will be used to purchase Wisconsin cheese and other dairy products to be donated to the Whitewater Food Pantry and the Community Space.
The Whitewater Unified School District has been distributing bags containing five breakfast and five lunch meals every Monday to children in the district. Lisa Griep, Food Service Director for the Whitewater Unified School District, told the Banner 860 bags were distributed on April 20, each one containing a half gallon of milk. When asked how that quantity of milk compares with the regular school year’s consumption, Ms. Griep stated, “A rough estimate would be about half (60%) milk consumed compared to a regular school day/wk. Reduced consumption is due to less meals being distributed than served daily (regular school day), and ala carte and snack milk sales/consumption are not realized.”
As for the milk that you purchase, here’s a little known fact: milk that is bottled in WI has a code 55 in the circled position on the jug. As Ron Binning pointed out on FaceBook, the only problem is that some WI dairy farmers’ milk is bottled in IL or MN, but is still WI milk.