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Dairy farmers hit hard by pandemic

Posted at 6:47 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 19:47:22-04

BANCROFT, Neb. (KMTV) — Farmers across the nation have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Some crops are currently rotting in fields due to low demand, some don’t have enough labor to pick those crops, and some dairy farmers are pouring milk down the drain.

Mike Guenther owns a dairy farm in Bancroft, Nebraska. When he took over the farm, he hoped to pass it on.

“This is our 4th generation, both me and my brother have kids hoping to get to the 5th,” said Guenther.

But the future of the farm for the 5th generation is unclear as the 4th generation battles with COVID-19.

“It does hurt a little bit to think that this might not be an option for them, you know there might not be a livelihood in the future,” said Guenther.

Their dairy farm in Bancroft is home to 600 cows, and most of the milk they sell is turned into cheese.

“With restaurants especially being closed, the cheese market has hit a very hard low,” said Guenther.

With cows still producing the same amount of milk, some farmers have turned to dumping it due to it being a cheaper option than storing it somewhere else. That’s something Guenther may have to do one day.

“We don’t want to have to be the ones to dispose of your milk, you do all of this work and all of this effort for what purpose except to lose that milk,” said Guenther.

Smaller farms may not make it past these tough economic times, which then could change the prices for dairy in the future.

“There will be less product out there, and with that, all of a sudden, less product and you’ll have higher prices when you go looking for those diary things because there will be less farms creating that milk,” said Guenther.

Guenther is hoping for financial help from the government or a sense of normalcy. Otherwise, his 4th generation farm may not see a 5th.

“There’s nothing that we can do. We don’t have anything packed away or any assets or anything we can really lean on at this point, so unless there is some assistance, we’re through,” said Guenther.