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Got Too Much Milk? Dairy Dumping Highlights Production Bottlenecks, Northeast Surplus

The federal office that sets milk prices for the Northeast recently allowed milk to be dumped at the farm. Photo by Ric Cengeri for VPR

The federal office that sets milk prices for the Northeast recently allowed milk to be dumped at the farm. Photo by Ric Cengeri for VPR

In yet another sign of the chronic milk glut that’s forced down prices paid to farmers, the federal government has allowed Northeast dairy co-ops to dump milk if they can’t find a market.

Nobody likes to dump milk, but sometimes it is necessary says Bob Wellington, a dairy economist and senior vice president with Agri-Mark, New England’s largest dairy co-op.

“It’s a horrible, horrible image,” Wellington said. “And we worked hard to try to see if there’s some way we can get that milk processed, at least to donate it. The problem is there’s no plant at all to process it.”

Wellington says two kinds of dumping occur.

In one scenario, milk is trucked to a processing plant and the cream is removed to make butter.

But the skim milk that’s left is sometimes dumped because, Wellington says, the plants don’t have the capacity to make the product into powder that can be stored long term.

Visit VPR for the full story.