COVID-19

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

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 6, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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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
Share Now on:
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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

Which businesses are allowed to reopen right now? And which businesses are actually doing so?

As a patchwork of states start to reopen, businesses that fall into a gray area are wondering when they can reopen. In many places, salons are still shuttered. Bars are mostly closed, too, although restaurants may be allowed to ramp up, depending on the state. “It’s kind of all over the place,” said Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Will you be able to go on vacation this summer?

There’s no chance that this summer will be a normal season for vacations either in the U.S. or internationally. But that doesn’t mean a trip will be impossible. People will just have to be smart about it. That could mean vacations closer to home, especially with gas prices so low. Air travel will be possible this summer, even if it is a very different experience than usual.

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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