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Dairy farmers hurting during COVID-19 pandemic

KCTV Kansas City logo KCTV Kansas City 4/8/2020
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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - No one likes to waste food and right now, milk is a household essential for millions of households. But right now, our nation’s food supply has been totally disrupted and farmers are paying the price.

It's a painful thing for a farmer to watch hundreds of gallons of milk going to waste at dairy farms in Wisconsin and around the country.

“It's a crisis right now,” Chris Heins with Heins Family Farms said.

Heins is one of many in the industry suffering from uncertainty and drops in demand during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We're really struggling from low prices right now,” Heins said.

Heins Dairy Farm near Higginsville milks several hundred cows and they have to keep milking, despite a sudden drop in consumption with schools and restaurants closing.

“We've got more supply than demand right now,” Heins said.

That's why some farmers have had to start disposing of milk because there aren't enough buyers. Heins had to dump milk last week and as a Coop Member, he loses when other farmers have to do it, too.

“It is an unprecedented time,” Heins said.

In a statement to KCTV5 News, a spokesperson for Dairy Farmers America outlined several challenges the entire industry is facing.

A surplus from schools and restaurants closing. They believe more milk will be available at grocery stores in the coming weeks, but some farmers are having to dump milk as a last resort.

In the meantime, the industry is working with food banks and other consumers to find more buyers.

“If everyone's staying at home and feeling a little stir crazy, dairy foods can provide some comfort,” Heins said.

Heins is hopeful consumption will pick back up as suppliers start shifting to retail.

“Just assume everyone is doing their best and working to beat this thing,” Heins said.

Especially those like Heins feeding America as it recovers.

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