The dairy industry is poised to rebound after a couple of tough months, according to Terry Entminger, manager of Entzminger Dairy near Jamestown.
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The COVID-19 coronavirus will impact milk prices, Rababank analysts say. Sean Ellis/Capital Press file

“We’ve had the same challenges as every other entity,” he said. “We say about a 30% drop in milk prices through April and May. There is some normality in prices as we come into June.”

Amber Boeshans, manager of farmer relations for Midwest Dairy, said things started rebounding as businesses started to reopen.

“We had an issue, as did several other food industries, when we were forced to shift from food service to retail for our market,” she said.

Entzminger said much of the dairy production in the United States is processed into cheese and that more cheese is consumed at restaurants than in home-prepared meals. Much of the fresh milk production is consumed through the school lunch programs. The coronavirus pandemic closed restaurants and schools in March reducing much of the market for dairy products.

“Once the restaurants started opening up it made a big difference in demand,” he said. “When they had closed, it created a backlog of dairy products.”

Boeshans said the pizza industry, which continued to operate with takeout and delivery, did help maintain some demand.

“Our partners in the pizza industry helped us rebound,” she said.

Entzminger said although the rebound in prices is positive, the dairy operation still faces the same problems other agriculture operations are in this region.

“Roads,” he said. “One of the challenges we have is our product has to go out every day.”

Wet roads that were impassable for a semi hauling a load of milk forced the dairy to dump one load earlier this spring.

“Now we are hauling half loads,” he said. “It is another unnecessary added cost this spring.”

Boeshans said there is no way to know what changes may come to the dairy industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Any changes to the dining habits of the American public could affect the demand for dairy products.

“We have to wait and see what the longterm implications are,” she said. “We have to get a grasp on the new reality and see how things change.”

For now, dairy farmers are looking to move on from the low prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We took a hit but the year looks doable,” Entzminger said.

Regional small, organic dairy farm industry had been rocked by Horizon Organic nonrenewal.

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