Every day for years, Grassland has sent more than 1 million pounds of ultra-filtered milk, a product with elevated protein content that's typically used in cheese production, to Canada, but it was informed by its Canadian customers last month they were immediately discontinuing buying the product from Grassland.
"When Canada implemented this new policy, it left us little to no response time", Westers said.
During the last so-called spring flush in May and June of a year ago, the amount of milk wasted or used for animal feed in the northeastern US exceeded 75 million pounds, the highest recorded in government data going back to 2000.
Dairy experts say there is too much milk available on the market today, and contractual obligations at other milk processors or dairies that make yogurt and ice cream may not allow them to accept more milk from new sources.
Dozens of Wisconsin dairy farms could be forced out of business, as early as May, because of a trade dispute that's getting worldwide attention and has halted the export of their milk to Canada. "Finding a new processor fast (to replace Grassland) is my priority".
Wisconsin and NY state officials have asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take action to help dairy farmers in their states who've been hurt by Canada's decision to impose duties on imports of a product called ultra-filtered milk.
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The missives were posted online and a person familiar with the situation confirmed them as authentic to The Associated Press. It is very unusual for a committee chairman and ranking member not to coordinate meetings related to an investigation.
Ben Brancel, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said the state has had numerous meetings with trade representatives and Gov. Scott Walker has sent letters on this issue to former President Barack Obama and to President Donald Trump. For now, though, about 75 farms are losing their milk contracts with Grassland because of the trade dispute, putting those farms in a perilous situation.
"There is nowhere else to go with the milk", said farmer James Juedes. "It's a huge loss for dairy farmers across the country, so we need something back from the Canadians". "We have also been in touch with agricultural groups and processing associations, as well as USA trade officials to see if they can do anything to change the situation".
"Our state's dairy farmers are some of the best in the world, and they should not be the victims of a trade dispute they didn't start", read a statement attributed to Sen. In its letter to farmers, the company expressed "regret that the Canadian governments' decision has made such a severe impact on Grassland's and your business".
In a statement Tuesday, Congressman Mike Gallagher, a Green Bay Republican, said Canada's new policies "preventing the sale of our dairy products in their country is not consistent with our values nor our agreements". "After evaluating and adjusting as much milk as possible, we were forced to decrease our milk intake". They're on edge, wondering what they'd do if they lost their markets for milk, too.
The controversial policy has re-priced Canadian milk products in ways that have directly impacted demand for imported products.