The beginning of the pandemic brought uncertainty and challenges to the dairy industry.
Katie Dotterer-Pyle explained how the pandemic affected her farm during a Nov. 2 virtual conference presented by the University of Maryland’s Agricultural Law Education Initiative.
Dotterer-Pyle is a teacher and co-owner of Cow Comfort Inn Dairy in Union Bridge, Maryland. She and her husband, Dave, established the farm in 2008 and now milk 400 cows as Land O’Lakes members.
They run a creamery, selling local products, and they employ six farmworkers full time.
When reports started surfacing that farmers were dumping a lot of milk even as some stores were having trouble keeping milk in stock, customers bombarded Dotterer-Pyle with questions.
Dotterer-Pyle, a well-known social media agvocate, made a short, light-hearted video explaining the milk supply chain and how it was being affected by the pandemic.
With food service markets largely closed down, milk had to be redirected to retail markets, which use smaller packages than restaurants do.
Dotterer-Pyle and her husband also tried to talk frankly and often with their employees, who were worried about maintaining both their health and their jobs.
The farm implemented health precautions, and on their own initiative, the workers stopped inviting their families up to the farm for visits.
Brooks Long and his wife, Katie, own Deliteful Dairy in Williamsport, Maryland. Like Dotterer-Pyle, Long didn’t have to dump any milk at the beginning of the pandemic.
In fact, Long’s co-op has seen an increase of 50% in fluid milk sales as the markets have shifted.
Deliteful Dairy has 60 cows and a farm store bottles its own milk and produces its own butter, both of which have sold well throughout the pandemic.