Taking Action on Dairy Limits at Retail
April 14, 2020, Madison, Wis. -- Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW) and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) have been fielding calls from concerned consumers and farmers about retailers limiting the amount of dairy that shoppers can purchase. The two organizations have been working diligently to contact retailers in Wisconsin to understand why, to urge them to lift the limits, and to continue to drive consumer demand for dairy.
The good news is that DFW and DATCP can confirm many stores already have and are lifting limits. Both organizations have been reaching out to retailers to explain to them the importance of ceasing limits due to the impact it has on dairy farmers. As of today, they have confirmed that Festival, Pick ‘n Save and Target stores across the country have removed all limits, and that Kwik Trip and Metcalfe's never had them.
"We all want to keep Wisconsin's milk moving from the farm to consumers," said DATCP Interim Secretary Randy Romanski. "That's why DATCP appreciates the partnership of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin as we all work to support our state's dairy farmers and help find ways to keep the food supply chain moving."
Due to the volume of inquiries they are receiving regarding stores across the Midwest limiting milk and dairy, DFW and DATCP have set up an online form, Wisconsindairy.org/StopLimits, for farmers and consumers to report any retail limits they see. In addition, DFW has reallocated staff to deal with the inquiries and reach out to the retailers.
A key partner in this effort is the Wisconsin Grocers Association (WGA). The two organizations have worked with WGA's President and CEO Brandon Scholz to urge retailers across the state to remove limits on dairy through its newsletter updates. Additionally, in an effort to drive dairy sales, earlier this week, DFW went a step further and created signs for retailers to post encouraging consumers to support local dairy farmers. They've also been heavily promoting milk and dairy advertising on television and via social with their "Here For You" campaign.
"Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and DATCP are deeply engaged with the grocery network and supply chain across the state," said Chad Vincent, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin CEO. "While we can't lobby or influence the price of milk and dairy sold, we serve as the voice of farmers and have heard their requests. As a result, we have been on the phone asking individual retailers to lift purchasing limits for dairy."
The two most asked questions from farmers and consumers are "why are there limits?" and "what can I do if I see limits?" DFW and DATCP address the questions with the following:
The dairy industry, in Wisconsin and beyond, continues to work along the supply-chain to ensure that stores have milk and dairy products for consumers. There are three factors in the supply-chain that retailers must work with to get product on the shelf:
- Processing and storage capacity – processing plants can only produce a certain amount of product over time based on their plant layout and production lines. If there are back-ups in production, due to reduced workforce or line capacity limits, it can create a bottleneck. Fresh milk is perishable and must be processed quickly due to a short shelf-life. Product that can be held for a longer period of time such as cheese, powders and shelf-stable milk can last longer in storage which can alleviate the bottleneck.
- Availability of trucks – there is the same number of truck drivers, but increased demand for products and reduced over the road services. This is placing a strain on truck drivers which can result in slower than expected refill rates.
- Product supply for everyone – Milk is in 94% of households and dairy is in 99%. Thus, retailers need to make sure milk and other dairy products are available at all times. If shoppers buy 5-10 gallons on a weekend, it's difficult to restock those shelves quickly which in turn means someone who only shops during the weekday may not be able to have a gallon of milk for the week.
If you see limits, take the following actions:
- Ask to speak to the store or department manager to understand why there are limits in place, and if appropriate, respectfully ask that they be removed.
- If speaking to the manager doesn't resolve the issue, take a photo of the sign and provide store information, the date you were there and your contact information on the following form on DFW's website: Wisconsindairy.org/StopLimits
About Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin exists to be a tireless advocate, marketer, and promoter for Wisconsin dairy farmers and to drive demand for Wisconsin's dairy products. The organization represents Wisconsin farm families and works to increase the sale and consumption of Wisconsin milk and dairy products, as well as build trust in dairy farmers and the industry. Organizational initiatives include generating national publicity, managing digital advertising, and driving sales, distribution and trial through retail and foodservice promotions. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin also supports in-school education about the benefits of dairy and funding for the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For more information, visit wisconsindairy.org and follow on Facebook.
About the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP): DATCP's mission is to partner with all the citizens of Wisconsin to grow the economy by promoting quality food, healthy plants and animals, sound use of land and water resources, and a fair marketplace. The agency is responsible for inspecting food businesses and lodging and recreational facilities, working with counties to assist farmers in protecting the state's environmental resources, protecting animal health, promoting Wisconsin products at home and abroad, and enforcing Wisconsin's consumer protection laws. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, DATCP is focused on two main goals: helping to keep food on Wisconsin shelves and supporting the essential industries it serves. To that end, the agency is in constant communication with stakeholders in the agriculture community, including the dairy industry. For more information, visit datcp.wi.gov.