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Milk cartons are displayed at an Asda supermarket in London
Reuters/Neil Hall
Milk matters.
GOT (TOO MUCH) MILK

Covid-19 has the US cheese and milk industries on the brink

Chase Purdy
Member exclusive by Chase Purdy

For dairy farmers in the United States, the timing of the Covid-19 pandemic could hardly be worse.

As the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spreads across the US and changes so many aspects of public life, it’s also reshaping how consumers buy dairy products. And while lots of farmers are experiencing increased demand for their foods, experts estimate demand for dairy has evaporated by nearly half.

The US dairy supply generally increases in the spring season, part of the natural cadence at which cows produce milk. But according to a new report by CoBank (pdf), there’s little demand for it this year. Economic weakness led big export markets, including China, to slash the volume of US milk they’re importing. School closings across the US—particularly elementary schools—have also put a major dent in milk consumption.