WLVT - TV - Pennsylvania dairy farmers were already battling a multi-year, nationwide "dairy crisis" when COVID-19 sparked a global pandemic.
Given extended restaurant and school closures, experts say the pandemic has "broken" the dairy supply chain. It's forcing some dairy processors to rethink how they package and distribute dairy items like milk, cheese, and butter.
"When they (farmers) were producing milk to go to restaurants, to go to schools, it needs to be packaged differently than if it goes into home consumption," said Mat Haan, dairy educator at Berks County's Penn State Extension.
The disruption is forcing some farmers to cut a portion of production by as much as 25 percent.
"The vast majority of our income is from our milk," said Jared Kurtz, a dairy farmer in Elverson, Pennsylvania. "So it'd be like just going to any other business and saying, 'okay, cut 10 to 15 percent of your revenue off for this month.' And, you know, we're already on some thin margins and that could very much push some farms over the edge."