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Lifting consumer milk purchasing limits

Lifting consumer milk purchasing limits

Missouri’s agriculture department is asking grocers to remove limits on milk purchases

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Missouri government officials are calling on grocers throughout the state to lift limits on how much milk consumers can buy.

State Agriculture Director Chris Chinn and Gene Wiseman, executive secretary of the State Milk Board, issued an open letter to retailers asking them to remove the restrictions to help dairy farmers.

“The Missouri Department of Agriculture and the State Milk Board respectfully request your support of Missouri’s dairy industry by allowing customers to purchase more of this nutritious product for their families,” the April 6 letter states. “Thank you for your dedication to the strength of Missouri’s food supply.”

While demand for milk at schools and restaurants declined amid the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for milk at grocery stores rose sharply as stay-at-home orders were put into place.

The rush of people in stores purchasing groceries forced retailers to place limits on buying to ensure shelves were stocked for more shoppers.

Some users on the state’s Department of Agriculture Facebook Page have posted about only being able to purchase one or two gallons of milk at a time.

The stores were acting with the best interests of Missourians at heart, Chinn said.

“The grocery retailers were not the bad guys in any of this situation,” she told KBIA. “I don’t want them to be portrayed in a bad light because they truly were trying to do right by their customers and make sure that there was enough product for everyone.”

The request to lift milk purchasing limits comes at a time when dairy producers are being forced to dump milk.

Scott Francka, a fourth-generation dairy farmer from Polk County, Mo., has had to dump thousands of pounds of raw milk.

“We dumped, I believe, 19,980 pounds,” he told KY3. “You put your heart into it. To watch your product flowing down the drain is just heartbreaking and emotional.”

All across the U.S., dairy farmers are in a similar position.

About 30 per cent of U.S. dairy production goes to the food service sector with another 15 per cent destined for exports.

Without these two markets available, dairy farmers have nowhere for their milk to go.

“Between those two sectors you have a huge demand destruction virtually overnight,” Marin Bozic, an ag policy specialist from the University of Minnesota who specializes in dairy, told earlier in the week. has reached out to the Missouri Grocers Association for comment.

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