Greetings Brother and Sisters!
I hope reading this finds you well. We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is a lot of uncertainty in the world. In my two worlds, healthcare and agriculture, this uncertainty seems to be magnified and exponential.
In my health care career, our medical center is preparing for the peak of COVID patients. We have been handed down orders to wear masks and take temps before stepping into work. It is truly a surreal situation being in a rural area and hearing about all of the chaos that is happening in places like New York and as close as St. Louis. You know this is something worth preparing for but its hard to understand when it isn’t affecting you directly…yet.
In agriculture, we are seeing chaos and uncertainty of a different kind. The volatility in the markets is making planning almost impossible. In cattle specifically, the live cattle trade is as low as I’ve seen it for a very long while. These are sure trying times. But thankfully, we in the beef industry are able to hold on to our product if need be. With spring grass coming, we can hold on to our fall calf crop for a few extra months if need be.
That isn’t the case in the dairy industry. Their product has a fraction of the shelf life as our beef does. There’s no putting the milk on grass for a few months to ride this out. Even though people are buying milk at the store, that’s just a portion of the product produced by the dairy industry. My friend Jess Peters did a wonderful job explaining this on her Instagram page last week. Places like Taco Bell, who use truck loads of cheese, have seen their business plummet. People aren’t going to eat fast food because they aren’t out and about.
So even though there is a high demand for liquid milk, there are lots of dairy products where the demand has dropped off. This decrease in demand has lead to lots of dairies being told to dump their product after they milk their cows. This seems a bit odd to people outside of agriculture I’m sure. Just like our economy, a lactating cow’s milk supply follows the rule of supply and demand. If there is no milk being extracted from that cow, then demand is down and she slows or halts production. So in order to keep those cows lactating, farmers must continue to milk these cows. However, since there is no place to go with this milk, they must dump it.
It is truly a sad and devastating situation. My heart goes out to those folks whose lives depend on the dairy industry. From early on in my podcast/blog journey, the industry that I’ve learned the most about is dairy. From the day to day operations to the mental stresses that they are facing, I’ve been inundated with so much information from dairy folks. I believe I’ve had more dairy farmers on my podcast than any other industry.
I feel the pain of these families and the friends I’ve made over the past few months in the dairy industry. I’ll give a shout out to each of the folks involved in dairy who I’ve interacted with on-line in some form.
- Randy Roecker
- Jessica Peters
- Brittany Olson
- Tara from New Mexico Milkmaid
- Benjamin Gotschall
- Becca from Hilby Family Farm
- Cynthia Martel
- Peter and Paula Hynes
My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you and your colleagues in the dairy industry. I know this is truly a trying time and I hope for the best for all of you. Even if there are people who are reaching out to you with messages of hate, know that there are 10 times more people who will shower you with love. We are all behind you.