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Dairy farmers begin to dump milk as California restaurants, schools close amid coronavirus pandemic

California dairies have begun dumping milk as restaurants and schools close due to the statewide stay at home order.

GALT, Calif. — On a dairy in Galt, Arlin Van Groningen's 1,250 cows continue to produce milk. The third generation dairy man's majority of product is sold for butter and powder, which means he has so far escaped the coronavirus economic fallout.

"We haven't had to do that and as far as I know," Van Groningen said. "Our co-op, none of its members have had to dump milk."

But other local dairies have not been so fortunate and have begun dumping milk because not enough people or restaurants are buying it during the statewide stay at home order.

According to the United Western Dairies, which represents 860 California dairies, about 10% is getting dumped.

"It is happening. It's not a ton right now," said Anja Raudabaugh,CEO of United Western Dairies.

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Raudabaugh says there's lots of supply, but demand is dwindling, largely in part due the mass closing of restaurants across the state. After Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide order for people to stay to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, restaurants had the option to close completely or switch to delivery and take-out only.

Raudabaugh said because of that, the UWD has struggled "meeting our contracts in that area."

Plus, schools are closed, which means another large portion of milk product is no longer heading to cafeterias.

"They're generally processing over 100% of their capacity, but if they don't have a contract that's viable, then in most cases, it's because the restaurant space for the most part has shut down," Raudabaugh said.

Van Groningen said there's also a transportation and grocery store issue, trying to get milk to grocery stores and markets. 

One solution: People will need to buy more milk.

"Most of our dairy farms are within 50 miles of most urban residents, so you are really guaranteeing a good, quality and safe nutritious product," Raudabaugh said.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Kurt Rivera.



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WATCH MORE: Governor Newsom gives an update on California's coronavirus (COVID-19) response | April 7, 2020

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