During the COVID-19 pandemic, milk is being dumped, while exports have disappeared and there is no milk and milk limits in my local stores. People are sheltering in place and practicing social distancing while essential businesses are still running. Excessive rainfall has me wondering how I can get in the fields, and I am searching for dried distillers grains because there are none available. Through it all, I am still farming (#Iamstillfarming).
Wow . . . after the last four years of milk prices and uncertainty, I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. Last fall and into early winter, I thought life was improving on the farm. The training of the robots, cows, and staff was starting to work more seamlessly. The milk price was improving. It was too wet, but we knew we would get into the fields soon enough.
Then, this novel virus became a concern, and people started hoarding toilet paper like the world’s worst case of winter dysentery was going to strike the human herd. You can have a spring allergy cough while searching for your favorite cheese and people will run from you like you have the bubonic plague. People are smart, but the human herd is easily spooked and will stampede if stressed.
We have been worrying about the milk price, and our ryegrass getting too mature before we could get into our fields, so my brother called a consultant who was very forage and ration savvy, Barry Dye, and asked his opinion. Barry, with a smile, said, “You’re going do what everyone else is going to do. Harvest when you can, do the best job possible, and have a little faith.”
During these tough times when I see milk being dumped, it is tough to have the kind of faith needed to override being paralyzed with fear. This is the time to do what you can do. Write messages to stores asking them to remove limits on milk. Post pictures of milk being dumped on social media and explain so that our customers understand that their local farms are in peril and need them to write their stores asking them to make more dairy products available.
Just like a harvest on the farm takes everyone there to complete, all dairy farmers must work together to raise awareness of our current plight. We need to harvest public opinion and get all the assistance available. We have to do the best we can until the current crisis subsides, and we have to have faith. Don’t give into fear that we can’t weather this crisis.
Note: We lost our friend Barry Dye this past week. He was a consultant to farmers across the southeast. Barry always greeted everyone with a smile, and his faith in the Lord and his farmers was resolute. He will be missed. He inspired our family and others to have “Faith Over Fear.”
Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.