99% of Grassland Milk Has Found a Home
What seemed bleak just a few weeks ago has turned into a tremendous success story in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as all but a couple of the 70-plus dairy producers affected by a supply cut off have now found new markets for milk.
“We can safely say that 99% of the displaced milk volume has found new markets,” says Dan Smith, division administrator within the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). “There are still a couple of farms that have extenuating circumstances and are still searching for a buyer, but we’re happy to say that nearly all of the farms found a new home.” There are also a few farms that took this opportunity to exit the business.
Governor Scott Walker thanked dairy processors, producers and officials for their efforts to help producers find new homes for displaced milk. In early April Grassland Dairy announced it could no longer accept milk from about 75 producers in Wisconsin and Minnesota beginning May 1.
Multiple players on multiple levels worked together to find solutions, says Smith. “I can’t say enough about the efforts of our processing industry to find workable short term solutions for this milk,” he says. “And it also took these farmers being open to new ideas and new arrangements.” Smith said some of the arrangements aren’t long term, but at least there is time to work out amicable long term solutions.
What those long term solutions are depends on a number of factors, including ongoing trade relations with Canada. “Our producers and processors will continue to thrive, as they have for so many generations, as long as there is a level playing field,” says Walker. “Canada is our largest trading partner and we want this strong relationship to continue, but we think they’re just plain wrong on this issue.”
Everyone in the Wisconsin and Minnesota dairy industries can breathe somewhat of a sigh of relief today knowing that solutions have been found. “It’s been quite a month,” Smith says. “It had to be a tremendous struggle for these producers not knowing if they would find a market. We’re proud of the way people worked together.”