While some dairy farmers across Canada are being instructed to dump their milk surplus due to COVID-19, dairy farmers in Manitoba are making plans to donate
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing turmoil across society, including in the restaurant and hotel industries. This situation, in turn, has started to affect the dairy industry by causing a surplus of milk.
While marketing boards in some provinces are directing farmers to start dumping their raw unpasteurized milk, farmers in Manitoba will soon have an option to donate their surplus.
“Currently there is no milk that's being discarded in Manitoba,” said David Wiens, chair of Dairy Farmers of Manitoba. “We've had a long-standing relationship with Winnipeg Harvest, the largest food bank in the province. Together with some of our processors and our transporters, we've been donating 320,000 litres of milk every year for the use of the food bank.”
These donations have occurred for 27 years. Now, discussions are underway to increase donations by approximately 60,000 litres, that adds up to 6,000 kg of cheese, to help with the milk surplus, said Wiens.
This increase in donations is a one-time donation but will be distributed to Winnipeg Harvest over a three-month period.
“Obviously, food banks are geared for a certain level of throughput in terms of food and this is a significant increase. So, we're having those discussions with (Winnipeg Harvest) to ensure they can logistically handle the increased volumes,” Wiens told Farms.com.
Typically, farmers contact Dairy Farmers of Manitoba and let the organization know they’d like to donate in a given month. Alternatively, producers might have an ongoing commitment to donate a certain number of litres a month, said Wiens.
“That's been fairly consistent over the years. So, once we have all the details worked out, we're able to expand this program and we know farmers will absolutely respond,” he said.
Producers are looking for ways to help during this difficult situation, said Wiens. He’s also a dairy farmer near Grunthal, Man.
“As farmers, we want to do our part to make things as good as we can. We're all in this together. Everybody's life has been turned upside-down, but we see an opportunity here to be able to alleviate some of the suffering that is out there,” said Wiens.
Photo credit: Dairy Farmers of Manitoba