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Canada’s dairy farmers are poised to dump milk as coronavirus worsens

07 April 2020

Dairy farmers in Ontario expect to dump millions of litres of milk due to coronavirus.

According to reporting from the BBC, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, a key industry group, has told farmers to discard raw milk to keep prices steady and prevent oversupply.

Demand for milk has stalled as restaurants and other bulk-buyers of dairy products shutter due to the pandemic.

Nearly 500 farms have been asked to dump 5 million litres of milk this week, according to a trade report.

The policy is an about-face from last week, when Dairy Farms of Ontario asked farmers to increase production as concerns over shortages mounted.

“In its 55-year history, Dairy Farmers of Ontario has only once before had to ask producers to dispose of raw milk,” Cheryl Smith, the association’s CEO told the BBC.

Canadian dairy is produced under a supply-management system, where strict controls on imports and production quotas are set to support prices.

As reports of COVID-19 emerged, the industry co-op, which controls nearly one third of Canada’s dairies, was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough milk to meet consumer demand. But since panic buying has died down the industry faced an oversupply issue.

Dairy Farmers of Ontario hopes that by dumping raw milk, the supply will balance out and prices will remain stable. The group hasn’t confirmed how much milk they are asking producers to dump but says it will be done on a “select and rotating” basis.

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