Some B.C. dairy farmers are seeing their work go down the drain
AGASSIZ, B.C. -- In what’s being called an unprecedented situation, some dairy farmers are being asked to dump their milk as the industry faces a drop in demand for milk products from restaurants, coffee shops and the loss of other commercial sales.
"With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we had to dispose of 12,000 litres of milk in the last few days…and I can just let you know it was really hard, really heartbreaking for me,” said Michael Haak, whose Enderby farm has been in his family for four generations.
The BC Dairy Association’s Jeremy Dunn says there are huge challenges for the dairy supply chain right across Canada.
"Retail business in this COVID (pandemic) early on was very high. It quickly fell off. Food service business has gone to almost zero," Dunn told CTV News.
In recent weeks, consumers have seen empty milk shelves and grocers impose limits on how much milk individuals can purchase. Dunn says shortages in stores are due to a shift in how the milk is being consumed.
"Getting that product to us in our houses in a way we demand it is a challenge on the supply chain," he said.
Roughly 60,000 litres of milk is being dumped in B.C. daily.
"We want to see it on tables in front of people, British Columbians, not being disposed of. It hurts but that’s the situation we’re in,” said Agassiz dairy farmer Holger Schwichtenberg. He also serves as the chair of the BC Dairy Association.
The dairy association has donated about 40,000 litres of milk to food banks in the province but says it currently doesn’t have the production, processing and distribution lines to give away all the milk that can’t be sold.
"We’re putting milk into food banks and we’re going to work to continue to do that," said Dunn.
Farmers still have to milk and feed their cows every day and can’t instantly reduce production. The losses to the dairy industry will be shared among all B.C. dairy producers.