Grassland Dairy Products Inc. has ended milk contracts with some Wisconsin dairy farmers after losing sales to Canada.
Grassland said it is reducing the milk it buys after its Canadian partners indicated they would stop purchasing products effective immediately because of new Canadian dairy regulations that took effect in March.
The decision impacts 1 million pounds of milk per day, said Goedhart Westers, Grassland’s vice president of business development. The company is left with an oversupply of milk and frozen inventory that was being shipped to Canada.
In past years, Westers said, Grassland worked with state and federal officials, Gov. Scott Walker and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in attempts to keep Canadian trade.
“The Canadian government’s decision had a far-reaching impact on Grassland and its patrons, and this will have an impact on other companies,” Westers said. “This was a difficult decision and made with the utmost respect for the hard-working dairy farmers.”
Grassland mailed farmers a 30-day notice to find a new market for their milk.
Mara Budde, assistant herd manager at Wildweed Holsteins and Jerseys in Randolph, said she got the letter for Wildweed’s 60-cow herd Monday. She called it impersonal.
“Monday night, I did chores with uncertainty,” Budde said. “I fed calves not knowing what their future holds and milked cows knowing we may not have a market for the quality milk our farm provides. I was so proud of Grassland’s butter for their award-winning product. Now I am just disgusted with their business practices.”
Westers said Grassland buys milk through 700 contracts but he would not say how many were canceled.
Budde said the decision impacted 75 farmers and their families, as well as milk haulers, mostly in the southern third of Wisconsin.
Westers said size and distance from processing plants was not a factor in determining which farms lost contracts. The company dropped producers in regions where Grassland thought they could more easily find a new market for their milk.