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Dump milk, bury vegetables: Losses mount for US farmers during Covid-19 lockdown

Dairy Farmers of America, the nation's largest dairy cooperative, has estimated that at least 3.7 million gallons of milk is being dumped each day.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 12, 2020 6:31:59 pm
coronavirus, coronavirus US, US coronavirus cases, US coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus pandemic, World news, Indian Express In this Wednesday, April 1, 2020 photo, Ryan Eble, left, and his father, Chris, talk in their milk house while fresh milk gushes down a drain at the Eble family’s Golden E Dairy near West Bend, Wisconsin. (Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

With schools and restaurants shut in the US, a bulk of the American farmers have been forced to dump most of their produce as they find few takers due to the coronavirus restrictions in the country, according to a New York Times report.

Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, has estimated that at least 3.7 million gallons of milk are being dumped each day. It also added that more than 7 lakh unhatched eggs are being smashed because of the pandemic.

A beans and cabbage farm owner, Paul Allen, was forced to destroy several pounds of the vegetables as the restaurants in the nation are closed and people are buying them less. “It’s heartbreaking,” Allen, co-owner of R.C. Hatton, told NYT.

Data shows that many Americans these day prepare their own meals instead of eating out or ordering-in. “People don’t make onion rings at home,” said Shay Myers, a third-generation onion farmer, who has fields on the border of Oregon and Idaho.

“There is no way to redistribute the quantities that we are talking about,” Myers added.

The International Dairy Foods Association said that about 5 per cent of the nation’s dairy products are being dumped and the amount is expected to double if the lockdown period is extended over the next few months.

“To purchase from a whole new set of farmers and suppliers — it takes time, it takes knowledge, you have to find the people, develop the contracts,” said Janet Poppendieck, an expert on poverty and food assistance.

All that the farmers can hope is that by the next batch of vegetables is ready for harvest, the nation’s economy would have restarted.

The same kind of problems are being faced by poultry plants that were set up to distribute chicken to restaurants rather than stores. With so many problems, many companies had even considered euthanizing chickens to avoid selling them at unprofitable rates.

(With inputs from New York Times)

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