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Dairy farmers resort to dumping thousands of gallons of milk, with processing plants unable to keep up

Minnesota dairy farmers forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk
Minnesota dairy farmers forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk 01:52

HASTINGS, Minn. -- You may have seen videos of Minnesota farmers dumping thousands of gallons of milk on their farms, because of oversupply and processing plants being unable to keep up. And finding a new home for milk isn't easy. 

"Ultimately, the nutrition in dairy is very much needed in this country and other parts of the world, too," said Justin Malone. 

Malone is a third-generation dairy farmer and one of the owners of Hastings Creamery. Forty-five dairy farms from Minnesota and Wisconsin are part of this operation. But lately, many farmers have struggled to find a home for their product.

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"It's the same situation for a lot of folks is that in the dairy industry, we just don't have enough processing to handle the amount of milk that the dairy industry is producing right now," said Malone. 

It's led to farmers dumping milk, like at Thompson Dairy near Lewiston. Owners there tell WCCO that older processing plants haven't been able to keep up with what farmers are producing.   


The Hastings Creamery plant has been bottling milk for more than a century. Recently, the Met Council warned the creamery that it was out of compliance with its industrial wastewater permit as it worked to keep up with farmers. Malone said he believes the issue has been resolved, at a crucial time. 

"We're back to business as usual. We're working with Met Council on short-term solutions. We're kinda sticking to the long-term solution, but it will take probably a year and a half to fully implement that," said Malone. 

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That could potentially mean building a wastewater treatment plant on site. Malone said he's confident there are better days ahead for farmers. 

"We are updating equipment in there and doing different things to try and make it more efficient. Help more dairy farmers in the end. That's our goal," said Malone. 

The Hastings Creamery processes 150,000 pounds of milk each day. Some Minnesota dairy farmers say they have downsized by selling cows to try and balance out the over-supply issues. 

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