Farmer Update: COVID-19

At American Dairy Association Indiana (ADAI) our love for the dairy industry is deep. Being passionate promoters and champions of our dairy farmers is at the heart of everything we do on your behalf. Our purpose is to make certain that Indiana dairy thrives. Read our farmer update for more about how we’re working on your behalf.

The last few weeks are unprecedented in recent times. Every person and business has been effected and is adapting to rapidly changing conditions. The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to bring even more changes. We want to reassure you that your team continues to work on behalf of Indiana dairy farmers.

  • Our work has been interrupted. Consumer events have been canceled, schools have been closed and meetings have been canceled. All per the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The ADAI office has been closed and the majority of our staff are working remotely and holding online meetings. This has been done at the recommendation of the Governor.

As farmers, you may be wondering how your dairy checkoff and allied industries are addressing the COVID-19 situation. We believe it’s important to keep you informed of the work being done on your behalf:

  • The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), primarily funded by the dairy checkoff, is working hard to assure that dairy products continue or resume flowing into the critical export market. This includes working to secure container space and other such efforts to support the 1 out of 7 gallons that is produced here and shipped beyond our borders.
  • The FDA has confirmed that pasteurized milk and dairy products are safe.
  • National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has created a webpage hub that is up to date with resources for farmers, farm employees, processing plants, and other members of the dairy supply food chain.
  • The ADAI team continues to work with our partners like Indiana Board of Animal Health, Indiana Dairy Producers, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Purdue Extension, and the Dairy Crisis Management Team, which includes DMI, USDEC, NMPF, IDFA, and MilkPEP, to ensure our industry has a coordinated response and plan to deal with the Coronavirus situation.

How ADAI is Working During the COVID-19 Situation

This is a critical time to reassure consumers that dairy continues to be safe and nutritionally vital to consumers, and that dairy farmers are continuing to work, even at this difficult time, to supply consumers with the food they need.

  • According to social media monitoring from sources like International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), tips on how to safely use, store, and preserve dairy foods have become some of the most commonly searched terms.
  • ADAI continues to share scientifically backed information and insights for families on how to keep dairy as an important part of their new daily routines.

Our Work in Schools

Our top priority is working with state and local partners to support programs that feed children during school closures.

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has enacted a program similar to the Summer Food Service Program and is available to every child 18 and younger. These meals must be complete meals, which means milk must be provided.

  • All schools are strongly encouraged to participate, and most districts are setting up hubs for meal pick up. Others are using their school buses to deliver meals to their normal bus stops.
  • We are using our partnerships with milk cooperatives and retail businesses like Domino’s to ensure that school children continue to receive school meals, even though the schools may be closed.
  • This also involves working with USDA. This is critical not only for the health of our children, but to also maintain the 7% of fluid milk that flows through schools at this time.

Food Security

We are working with food companies and food banks to try to ensure access to dairy foods for the food insecure. On Wednesday, we opened the Dairy Bar at the Indiana State Fair to serve as a pick up location for over 500 gallons of milk from Prairie Farms for Indiana CACFP (Child and Adult Care Feeding Program) businesses.

What Can You Do to Help?

The public would love to hear from you. Consider giving a virtual tour of your farm or sharing pictures of daily farm life. Families at home are interested in activities to keep their children engaged and learning, so this is a good opportunity for our farmers to share and create new stories about the Indiana dairy industry.

Our team is here to help! Contact Allie Rieth to learn more about how you can share on social media or how your farm can be featured on our social channels. We are also constantly updating a new “Family Resources” page with activities, recipes and more to share with your communities

We know there is a lot of uncertainty in what the next few months look like. Our staff carry a deep passion for our dairy farmers and the dairy industry. Rest assured that we continue to work on your behalf every day. We will continue to send you updates in the next few weeks as we receive more information and can share more of our successes during these tough days.

Be well, and be heartened that the message of wholesome and nutritious dairy foods and the work that dairy farmers do is continuing to be delivered.