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How COVID-19 is negatively impacting area farmers

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Videos are circulating of dairy farmers dumping their milk down the drain. A painful sight for farmers to see.

"These dairy farmers in world of hurt right now," says Richard Beuth with the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau.

Beuth says U.S. schools typically consumer about 7% of the country's milk. In addition, many grocery stores are limiting the amount of milk people can buy. Creating a lack of demand for dairy farmers and a surplus of milk. Without any federal help to get through, Beuth says this spells disaster for many operations.

"There will be lots of lots of dairy farmers going out of business," says Beuth. "When things do get back to normal, there may not be enough milk for people. It's in the government's interest and general public who eats three times a day to keep the AG business going."

But Beuth says it's not just dairy farmers hurting. He says the disruption in the supply chain means farmers of things like beef, chicken, and pork and being offered lower prices for their goods. For example he says beef farmers were paid roughly $1.30 per pound and are now being paid about 50 cents less for the same amount.

"Unfortunately the prices aren't coming back to the farmer, it's the processing plants that are making excess profits especially in the beef."

So what's the solution? Beuth says he's hopeful the federal government will step in and offer farmers a much needed helping hand to get them back on their feet.

"Farmers hate to ask the government for money," says Beuth. "But the government is going to have to reimburse, especially the dairy farmers."

Until that happens he's encouraging the everyday consumer to continue to support the agriculture industry. He says not by hoarding their products or shopping in high volume. Rather, he recommends shopping as normal to give the supply chain time to stabilize.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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