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The Impact of COVID-19 on Idaho Dairy

The coronavirus has taken a toll on many aspects of life. Unfortunately, many of them have contributed to the heavy toll our global and local markets have sustained.

The dairy industry plays a crucial role in our grocery stores and restaurant chains. But due to the pandemic, restaurants all over the country have closed or limited themselves to take-out services, by orders of local government leaders, including Idaho. The limits imposed on the restaurant industry have forced dairy producers to waste a great deal of their supply.

Alan Reed, the president of Reed's Dairy, said in the dairy industry, cutting production isn't as easy as it may seem.

"The only way to stop your production, the amount of gallons you produce is to stop milking that many cows,” he said. “But you can't automatically stop…it's not healthy for the cow.”

This problematic scenario is putting a lot of dairy farmers in a hard situation.

On top of limited production cutting, many distributors, including Reed's Dairy, have had to find ways to adjust to keep people healthy.

Reed said regarding their delivery protocols, "We have typically been [using] returnable bottles, either plastic bottles or glass bottles, but since coronavirus [broke out], we have stopped using returnable bottles."

Despite the hard situation, Reed's Dairy has kept hold of a lot of their business because of its delivery system.

Reed said their customers can still get their dairy products delivered to them during the stay-home order.

Governor Brad Little recently announced that Idaho's stay-home order will run through April 30, which could potentially allow restaurants to open more services as soon as May 1.

When that happens, Reed said things should start to normalize gradually for dairy producers.

"How they are going to adjust is going to be a challenge. What needs to happen is restaurants need to get back open…so that market becomes available again," Reed said.