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April 6, 2017

State of Wisconsin Trying to Find Home for Displaced Milk

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Ben Brancel says the state of Wisconsin has been actively contacting milk processors to find a home for the milk displaced by Grassland Dairy Product’s announcement that it would no longer accept milk from about 75 of its patrons at the beginning of May.

The action was precipitated by an announcement by Canada last week that it would no longer accept the importation of ultra-filtered milk May 1. “The action that Grassland has taken has brought reality to what we were fearing [with the Canadian trade situation,]” says Brancel. But more than trade policy and a trade dispute, “this boils down to families,” Brancel told Dairy Herd Management Thursday afternoon.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has called numerous processors, some multiple times, to check if excess processing capacity is available. Each processor has a different situation, and most are either full or hesitant to take on more milk in anticipation of the spring flush.

DATCP has set up a spreadsheet of those producers who have called DATCP to track location, herd size and daily milk volume. The hope is DATCP can match up farmers with processors who might have production capacity available.

DATCP is also recording whether the farmer had a milk sales agreements with Grassland and/or whether the farmer has a forward pricing contract. “A lot do not have [milk sales agreement] contracts. Some don’t have forward contracts, some do,” says Brancel. Department officials are trying to evaluate what the obligation of both parties are if a forward contract agreement is in place.

Gov. Scott Walker has offered to set up a meeting with processors and farmer leaders to re-evaluate milk purchasing policies in the state, and whether there are any short- and long-term fixes.

Farms who have been displaced and wish to be included in the DATCP spreadsheet should contact the Wisconsin Farm Center at 1-800-942-2474. For more information, visit the Farm Center here