Mullins Cheese in Mosinee has picked up 8 of the more than 75 farms that had contracts terminated by Grassland Dairy earlier this month.
Beth Heinze and her family are relived to be working with Mullins after calling around to purchasers, the Department of Agriculture and the Milk Marketing Board only to discover no one was purchasing milk.
“When we got the news from Mullins, it was a little bit bittersweet,” Portage dairy farmer Beth Heinze said. “We’re very worried about our friends and colleagues who’s dairy farms have not been picked up by a new processor yet.”
Bill Mullins, Vice President of Mullins Cheese sees picking up these new farms as a great opportunity to build for the future.
“It’s not every day that you get to pick up great quality farms like these farms, I mean these guys all had great numbers and wonderful farms,” Mullins said.
He has noticed the toll it is taking on family farms.
“It’s hard to take a call from a producer that’s been on the farm for three and four and five generations and now you know, have a problem like this,” Mullins said.
Many farms that had contracts terminated by Grassland Dairy are still searching for a processor. That’s why the “Just Take 5” initiative was started by Dairy Forward.
It’s a group of farmers that are encouraging people to call processors like Mullins Cheese and ask them to “Just Take 5” more new farms. Their hope is that if a group of processors across the state each pick up a few farms, then all of the farms could stay in business.
They are also encouraging people who aren’t in the dairy industry to consume more dairy products or buy five dairy products and donate them to a local food bank.
There is a sense of urgency to the campaign since all of the farms terminated by Grassland Dairy have until May 1 before their milk stops getting picked up.
Heinze says that for farmers without contracts at that point, it can be devastating, and that they could only last for another week or two before having to shut down.