Surplus Milk Donation in Litchfield; But Future of CT Dairy Farmers Concerns Experts

The coronavirus crisis is causing a milk surplus, which is hurting local farmers, according to experts.

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With schools closed and restaurants only doing takeout or delivery, there is a massive surplus of milk right now across the state and country.

“Every day, 1,200 truckloads of milk are dumped across the country. If you think about that, it’s just insane," said Bill Davenport, the Litchfield County 4-H Educator with UConn Extension.

On Wednesday, instead of dumping thousands of pounds of yogurt and sour cream, Cabot Creamery, an Agrimark Dairy Cooperative owned by dairy farmers from Connecticut and neighboring states, donated their surplus from the coronavirus crisis to those in need.

4-H volunteers in Litchfield County helped collect donations to give to organizations that are feeding those in our state who are hungry.

This was one of three donation sites across the state.

But, while this donation makes an impact, Davenport said there could soon be an even bigger problem. He said local farms aren't going to be able to stay afloat.

"When the farm produces the milk, it has to leave the farm in a couple of days out of their bulk tank to make room for the milk made by the cows," he said. "We need to find homes for this fluid milk until the restaurants and stores open up again. They are the ones who take 30 percent of that milk.”

So while some supermarkets might be limiting how many gallons of milk people buy, Davenport said stores that do that are sending the wrong message.

He said we need to be drinking more milk or paying producers to give the surplus to those in need since local farmers can’t afford to change their current business model.

"They can’t just change their operation overnight to make more butter, more dried milk. The fluid milk has to go somewhere," Davenport said.

Davenport said you can reach out to your local UConn Extension educator, like himself, to see who you can help your community.

In the meantime, this donation will help feed a lot of people during these tough financial times.

"It’s very hard. Most of the pantries have to buy their milk," said Kathy Minck, the site director for Food Rescue U.S. out of Norwalk, which helps 30 or so food pantries get food.

"In Litchfield County people wouldn’t think of food insecurity, it’s not big cities or anything like that, but it’s surprising how many people in our county are food insecure. It’s great to be the link between farmers that have extra dairy products and the people that are in need especially during this time," said Elizabeth Hall, Woodbury, president of Litchfield County 4-H Fair Association, who was one of many volunteers during Wednesday's event.

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