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Milk prices soar, while farmers are dumping it

Supply and demand rules turned upside down
Reyna DeLoge
Posted at 8:58 AM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 11:36:31-04

If you buy milk, you probably know that milk prices have been going up, and that some stores have been running low. Many grocery stores are now limiting customers to just two gallons of milk at a time.

Then, farmers are dumping raw milk because no one wants to buy it.

Ohio farmer Richard Conrad has never had to pour out his raw milk before.

"Terrible, terrible, unbelievable," Conrad said. "I've never seen anything like this in 60 years."

He says milk demand is sharply down with schools and restaurants closed, which means his nearby processors don't want it.

At the same time, grocery stores have raised prices and are running short on milk, and now they have placed limits on how much you can buy. The same is true with eggs: higher prices, tight supplies but farmers have too many.

Soaring prices in stores, but too much in farms

The cost for a gallon of whole milk has gone up from $1.99 to $2.99 at most Cincinnati area Kroger stores this year.

Amy Miller of Lebanon, Ohio wanted to order milk from Walmart for delivery and was stunned at the high price on her local store's website for ordering.

"The website showed $10 a gallon for two percent milk, and $10 a gallon for whole milk," Miller said.

So how is it there is a glut of milk on the farm and not enough milk in your grocery store, not to mention at a higher price?

Like a lot of things right now, it doesn't make a lot of sense to Linda Slusher of Milford, Ohio.

"There are a lot of people who have no paycheck right now," Slusher said.

But she feels it is not right that farmers can't haul that extra milk to stores. "Why can't they divert it to the grocery store and keep the prices down?" she said.

Why farmers can't ship to stores

The American Dairy Association said the problem is the milk supply lines to stores are like a funnel and there is not enough space to store and haul all that milk from farms before it spoils.

Shoppers have cleared store shelves, but that supply line cannot get any more milk to the stores. And with schools not needing milk, farmers are stuck with millions of gallons of milk they can't sell.

But farms can't just ship raw milk to grocery chains. The milk has to go through processors for pasteurizing, so there is no simple solution.

Farmers like Conrad hope those lines open up soon, because he says spilling out milk during tough economic times isn't right.

The dairy association says once people stop panic shopping, store milk supplies should recover, and the price we pay will go down again.

And that way you don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money

8:47 PM, Oct 17, 2018

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