COVID-19

Land O’Lakes CEO on why some farmers are dumping milk

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 6, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Cows eat before being milked on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Cows still produce despite farmers having fewer buyers. Scott Olson/Getty Images
COVID-19

Land O’Lakes CEO on why some farmers are dumping milk

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 6, 2020
Cows eat before being milked on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Cows still produce despite farmers having fewer buyers. Scott Olson/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Land O’Lakes does a lot more than just make butter, though that may be what the company is best known for. The business is a farmer-owned cooperative that also sells animal feed, seed and crop protection products and other dairy products. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, about the supply-chain issues facing farmers right now.

“This is a very challenging time for agriculture,” Ford said. “What you see is a disruption caused by COVID. On the dairy side, restaurants and schools aren’t open, and so where does that milk go? You don’t just turn the cow off.”

Because of these changes in the supply chain, many farmers are facing a significant drop in prices. Ford said she doesn’t think the dairy sector is getting enough government support and will likely need to seek more funding.

“You can see it right now with these shutdowns within the value chain,” Ford said. “This isn’t about a handout. This is about trying to make sure that we are stabilizing the operating environment for our farmers, growers and producers, so that they can get to the other side.”

Ford is confident that many of Land O’Lakes’ co-op members will make it through this crisis but suspects that some will have to shut down.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.