Grassland Dairy Products, Inc. has ended milk contracts with Wisconsin dairy farmers after losing sales to Canada.
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Grassland said it made the decision to reduce milk intake volumes after its Canadian partners notified Grassland they would stop purchasing products effective immediately because of new Canadian dairy regulations that took effect in March. Grassland said the decision impacts 1 million pounds of milk per day. Goedhart Westers, vice president of business development for Grassland, said the company is left with an oversupply of milk and frozen inventory that was being shipped to Canada. Goedhart said in past years, Grassland worked with state and federal officials, Governor Walker and Paul Ryan: national and state industry organizations, USDEC and NMPF; and the media in attempt to keep Canadian trade.
“The Canadian government’s decision had a far-reaching impact on Grassland and its patrons, and this will have an impact on other companies,” Goedhart said. “This was a difficult decision and made with the utmost respect for the hard-working dairy farmers.”
Grassland gave those producers a 30-day notice in the mail to find a new market for their milk. Mara Budde, assistant herd manager at Wildweed Holsteins and Jerseys in Randolph, said the 60-cow dairy received a generic, impersonal letter in the mail on Monday saying Grassland would no longer provide a market for the farm’s milk. Goedhart would not confirm how many farms out of the 700 Grassland serves lost their contracts. Budde claims the decision impacted 75 farmers and their families, as well as milk haulers. An agricultural publication shared the same information in an article posted this week.
“Monday night, I did chores with uncertainty,” Budde said. “I fed calves not knowing what their future holds and milked cows knowing we may not have a market for the quality milk our farm provides. I was so proud of Grassland’s butter for their award-winning product. Now I am just disgusted with their business practices.”
According to Budde, the decision mostly impacted farmers in the southern part of Wisconsin. Goedhart said size and distance from processing plants was not a factor in determining which farms would be impacted. Goedhart said the company dropped producers in regions where Grassland thought they could more easily find a new market for their milk.