Farmers could dump as much as 5 million litres per week
By Diego Flammini
Some Ontario dairy farmers are being advised to dump raw milk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A spike in demand during the onset of social distancing has worn off. Now Ontario has too much milk because of the shutdowns of restaurants and other food service and hospitality businesses.
Dairy Farmers of Ontario (DFO) sent letters to producers asking them to take turns dumping raw milk at this time. About 500 producers are being asked to dump milk during the first round of requests. In total, the requests could add up to about 5 million litres of milk per week.
“In its 55-year-history, Dairy Farmers of Ontario has only once before had to ask producers to dispose of raw milk,” Cheryl Smith, CEO of DFO, told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “Yet, this week, we informed them these measures would be necessary on a select and rotating basis.”
Farmers will still be paid for this milk.
Some dairy farmers are waiting to make their next move.
If transportation is affected in addition to demand, farmers may have more challenges.
“We can produce exactly our quota and that’s the limitation at the moment,” Melinda Foster-Marshall, a producer from Stittsville, Ont., told Farms.com. “We haven’t been asked to dump milk but have been told it could be a possibility depending on what’s going on with transportation and at (processing) plants.”
Other producers are sympathetic towards the dairy sector.
Todd Arthur, a cash crop farmer from Middlesex County, used to be a dairy farmer as well.
He’s heard from friends who had to dump milk, and feels for them as they watch the product go into the drain.
“Having been in the dairy industry, my heart goes out to them,” he told Farms.com. “It’s hard to grapple because you work so hard to produce the milk and then you’re told it isn’t needed. It’s got to be tough on everybody and hard to swallow.”