LOWVILLE, NY — As the farmers and other people in our community are facing difficult times, it’s hard to stand by and not do anything to help either of them. The issues we’re dealing with right now are bigger than one person can solve but communities across New York State have been working to purchase dairy products, to help get milk moving and support the price to the dairy farmers, and get those products to those who are facing financial challenges.
To help farmers and help the community, a Dairy Drive has been organized for Lowville for 11am to 2 pm Friday, May 8, at the Lewis County Fairgrounds.
Families in need can pick up dairy items, including milk, cheese and other products from 11-2 p.m. or until items are gone.
Proper social distancing, safety, and public health hygiene practices will be adhered to throughout the event. Patrons must remain in their vehicles at all times. All drivers are encouraged to wear a mask when picking up your product. Please pop your trunk or items will be put in your back seat. All social distancing guidelines will be strictly followed per Lewis County Public Health.
• Lowville Dairy Drive-thru time: 11-2 p.m.
• Location: Lewis County Fairgrounds. Follow signs and public safety officers directing traffic.
Patrons will drive in on DeWitt Street and exit via Bostwick Street.
• Patrons will receive one pre-packaged bag of dairy items and milk per vehicle
• Patrons must remain in their vehicles at all times.
• The dairy drive is open to all community members who are in need or have safety concerns about going out in public areas.
• Items are free.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our food supply chain and led to major disruptions in the supply and demand of milk and dairy products. While demand surged in the grocery stores, our farms lost major wholesale customers. Depending on the commodity (beef, eggs, pork, milk, vegetables, etc), anywhere between 40-60% is sold through restaurants and the food service industry. While many restaurants are still serving, it is only a
fraction of what it was before the pandemic.
In addition, these changes in demand have contributed to a huge bottleneck at the processing plants. Milk plants that were set up to produce 30 lb bags of cheddar cheese or 30 lb tubs of yogurt for the food service industry are not set up to start bottling milk. Also, milk is a perishable product that can only be transported in refrigerated trucks. Transportation is another bottleneck, getting the milk to the bottling plants and then getting it shipped out to the stores. Due to the perishable nature of milk, it is required by law, to be pasteurized and processed within 4 days or it must be dumped. Most farms are not set up to pasteurize their own milk and so are restricted by law from selling milk directly from their farm.
These shifts in demand have caused the price that the farmers get for their milk to drop about 30% and well below the cost of production for most farms. And, in many cases, farms have not been able to sell their milk at all and have actually had to pour it down the drain.
The best thing we can do is support farmers through our purchases in the supermarket and through food donations. In this case, we can get wholesome milk to New Yorkers who are facing their own financial struggles related to the pandemic. It will also be an opportunity to purchase more milk. It is a win-win for the whole community.
A variety of donors and groups have been working together to make all the Dairy Drives possible in Lewis County, including:
– Dairy Farmers of America
– American Dairy Association Northeast
– Kraft Heinz
– Great Lakes Cheese
– Adirondack Beef Company
– Autumn Ridge Goat Farm
– Black River Valley Natural
– Cummings Farm Creamline Milk
– Widrick Electrical
– Penske of Watertown
– Lewis County Farm Bureau
– Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County
– Lewis County Opportunities
– Lewis County Government
– Lewis County Emerging Professionals
– Lewis County Sheriffs and Lowville Police Department
– Lewis County Agricultural Society
For more questions about the event, contact Lewis County Farm Bureau at (315) 486-8820.