Wisconsin dairy groups call for relief amid milk dumping

Milk production (Photo by: Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) ( Photo by: Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images )

Wisconsin dairy groups are calling on the USDA for swift action for emergency relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic as some dairy plants have resorted to dumping surplus milk.

Dairy officials say the plants that have been impacted the hardest are those that supply restaurants and other facilities that have closed due to coronavirus.

Wednesday, dairy groups sent a joint letter to the USDA calling for direct relief, specifically on purchases of nonfat dry milk, butter, cheddar styles, mozzarella, and other Italian-style cheese, both in bulk formats purposed for use by restaurants and food service vendors. They are also asking the USDA to look into ways to pay back farmers for the milk they had to dump.

In a conference call with media Thursday afternoon, leaders from the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Dairy Business Association and Edge Farmer Cooperative shared their concerns about the "unprecedented" situation brought on by coronavirus.

"This was supposed to be the rebound year [for dairy farmers] but because of the coronavirus, it could be an even more devastating outcome for farmers," said Tim Trotter, the executive director, of the Dairy Business Association and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.

When asked how many plants have been specifically involved in milk dumping, officials said they did not have that data, but said they knew of verified cases throughout the Midwest.