WHAT A WASTE! Farmers dumping 3.7 million gallons of milk every day and burying fresh veggies as demand slumps
As the US struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus, its economy has been put under massive stress. While millions have been losing jobs because of shutdowns, the food supply chain has also been battered with producers being forced to waste their production. Be it milk, eggs or vegetables, the country is witnessing humongous waste because of plummeting demands in schools, restaurants and hotels.
The US stands to be the worst-hit nation in the world by the COVID-19 pandemic with 557,571 people affected and 22,108 dead, according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 1.85 million people have been hit worldwide while the death toll stands at over 114,000.
Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the US’ biggest dairy farm cooperative, reported that 3.7 million gallons of milk were being drained every day because of the crisis situation, Daily Mail reported. In the words of the International Dairy Foods Association, the farmers are wasting about five percent of the country’s milk supply.
The scenario is no different in the vegetable fields as the producers are being forced to bury their fresh produce. They are also donating them to bodies like Meals on Wheels, though limited resources and money are making it challenging to make the donations. Besides, 750,000 unhatched eggs are also being smashed every week.
DFA vowed to ensure protection of milk
Recently, Kristen Coady, vice president of DFA’s corporate communications, vowed to ensure that the milk produced by the farming families doesn’t go waste and the safety of the farming families and employees is addressed.
“We are diligently working to ensure our farm families’ milk continues to be picked up, our plants continue to operate, and we continue to provide consumers and communities with wholesome dairy products during this difficult time,” Coady was quoted as saying by The Mid-West Farm Report. Not much change for the better has taken place though.
The farmers are also facing a challenge in repackaging products for new clientele in grocery shops and other retail food sellers. According to a report in the New York Times, some of the farmers who have changed to supplying to grocers and other retail food sellers complained about countering repackaging challenges while working with those they are not prepared for in normal circumstances.
Agriculture has been one of the worst-hit sectors of the economy in times of the pandemic and the massive quantity of food waste is making things no better. While the authorities have been reasserting that the food supply is strong enough to prevent a serious shortage, the lack of a robust bridge between production and delivery has made the concerns over a food crisis deeper.
Farmers in Ohio, Wisconsin, Idaho and Florida are destroying their produce, and R C Hatton co-owner Paul Allen described it as something “heartbreaking”. The farm company has had to destroy massive amounts of vegetables at its farms in South Florida and Georgia and even as they planted the same crops again hoping that an economic recovery could reward them still. But as of now, it looks like a long haul.