BRIGHTON — Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is asking the US Department of Agriculture to implement a dairy buy-back program to relieve Wisconsin's dairy farmers of the negative impacts brought on by the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.
The virus and the state's "Safer at Home" order has caused the demand for dairy products to dip so low, that farmers are now dumping out the dairy they've worked so hard to produce.
The impact comes after several challenging years for dairy farmers.
Susan Crane, a dairy farmer in Kenosha County, said the dairy market looked different than the past several years.
"2020 did have the potential to be a good year for dairy farmers and we were really looking forward to this," said Crane. "And now, this happened."
The state's Interim Secretary of Agriculture, Randy Romanski, said COVID-19's impacts on the dairy industry could not have been predicted.
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"Schools are closed, restaurants are closed with limited circumstances so, that’s changed the demand for the product," said Romanski.
Now, he said the state is working to secure resources to help the farmers being hit hard.
"Nobody could’ve seen COVID-19 and the impacts it had on demand and as a result, we unfortunately see milk being disposed of at a time when there are people who are food insecure in our country," said Romanski.
Wisconsin leaders are asking the USDA to implement a program where the federal government purchases dairy product from Wisconsin's farmers and uses the product in areas where food insecurities exist.
"it’s really important for the federal government to step in and provide healthy, nutritious dairy products for food pantries, nutrition assistance programs and in other areas that people need them," said Romanski.
For now, milk is being dumped down the drain at area farms and dairy farmers have concerns about the future of the market.
"A farm is not like a factory. You can’t shut the lights off, and close and lock the doors and walk away for a week and then come back and start production again," said Crane.
She said farmers have no option but to continue producing quality dairy, with or without the consumer demand.