By Lindsey Leake
Florida dairy farmers collectively have spewed enough milk into grassy fields and down industrial drains in the past week to overflow an Olympic-size swimming pool.
About 70 farms began dumping excess milk April 1 — 135 tankers totaling 810,000 gallons — according to Joe Wright of V&W Farms in Avon Park.
That's because schools are closed. Theme parks are shuttered. Restaurant dining rooms are empty. The COVID-19 pandemic has all but obliterated institutional milk sales, said Wright, who has been president of Southeast Milk, Inc., a Belleview-based cooperative serving six Southern states, for the past 23 years.
“It's heartbreaking … we’re getting calls from food banks. There is a need for milk,” Wright said. “The fact that grocery stores are still limiting the purchases when we’re pouring it down the drain — there’s just a disconnect there.”