The nightmare continues for some Wisconsin and Minnesota dairy farmers as they scramble to find a new processor for their milk by May 1.

Dozens of dairies received notice from Grassland Dairy Products Inc. on the first of April that the Greenwood, Wis., based processor would not be able to take their milk after May 1. Grassland’s decision to reduce its milk intake came after an announcement from Canada that they would no longer be purchasing ultra-filtered milk from the U.S. Nearly 1 million pounds of milk from Grassland had traveled north of the border every day.

Wisconsin’s Secretary of Agriculture Ben Brancel has been at the heart of the situation, calling processors, meeting with dairy groups, and searching for answers for these dairymen and women in need of a new processor.

At the Cooperative Network’s Spring Dairy Issues Conference, Brancel updated the audience on the situation. The good news is that some of the farmers have found a new home for their milk. Brancel estimates that about half of the milk volume originally released by Grassland has been picked up by another plant.

The bad news is that at least 44 of the farms have yet to find a new processor. And as we head into the “Spring Flush,” there simply isn’t a lot of room for this extra milk at many plants.

“This is the first time in the state of Wisconsin that no one is willing to pick up milk,” Brancel said.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection attended a listening session in mid-April to hear farmers’ concerns and brainstorm ideas. For now, Brancel’s goal is to get the milk from those 44 herds on a truck and save as many of the affected dairies as possible. Finding a new processor for these farms is just the tip of the iceberg, though, in the greater issue of supply and demand.

“This is a short-term problem with a long-term headache,” he said. “It needs a long-term solution.”

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2017
April 24, 2017

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