Originally published March 23, 2020 on Alberta Farmer Express
Demand for milk and dairy products has jumped, but Alberta Milk is increasing deliveries to processors
[UPDATED: Mar. 24, 2020] Alberta Milk is aware of milk shortages in the province and is addressing them, says a spokesperson.
“There are shortages happening across the province and we’re trying really hard to react to them,” Karlee Conway said March 23. “I think it comes back to people hoarding milk and products — and they don’t need to.
*“We have a board meeting (on Thursday) about how we can better respond to that, and we have increased deliveries to processors to try and meet that increasing demand.”
In some areas of the country, fluid milk demand has jumped by 40 per cent since the pandemic has escalated, Conway said.
Alberta Milk is also increasing its communication with its members regarding health protocols.
“We’re making sure that they take it and make it practical for on-farm,” she said. “There are people that do need to come to the farm and cows still need to be fed, and the milk driver still needs to pick up the milk.”
Practising social distancing when people come onto their property to do essential tasks is a key message, and it’s recommended producers use their phones or apps such as FaceTime when possible.
Keeping producers informed has become an organization-wide effort.
“We’re working a lot through our delegates and elected dairy farmers to make sure that every single dairy farm across the province is aware of the different protocols that we’re recommending, making sure that everything is safe and everyone knows that they have a community around them to help them,” she said.
In every update that they share, Alberta Milk provides mental health resources to their producers.
“This (situation) can take a lot out of our farmers, so they need to make sure that every facet is taken care of, including their mental health,” Conway said.
Producers are concerned about a number of things, with top ones being whether there’s any possibility of a milk processing plant shutting down, disruptions to their supply chains, and the protocols that milk haulers and processors are implementing.
“That’s where Alberta Milk comes in. We’re working with haulers and processors, both the organizations and individually, to make sure we’re all following the same protocol. A lot of that is spatial distancing,” she said.
“Good communication is essential in a pandemic or emergency situation.”
*UPDATE: Indicated what day the board meeting was taking place and the extent of national fluid milk demand.