Thousands of litres of milk are being dumped in Chilliwack each day as a result of the flooding.
Because of road closures, dairy farmers cannot get their supply from Chilliwack west to processors for pasteurization.
Matt Schmidt, owner of Gala Dairy, is one of Chilliwack’s smaller dairy producers. He was forced to dump 2,000 litres of milk on Wednesday. He wanted to give the milk away but couldn’t since it hadn’t been pasteurized.
It would have been in violation of their agreement as a licensed milk producer, he said.
“It’s just a waste (but) you have to follow the rules as a licensed producer,” Schmidt said.
He’s one of about 470 licensed producers in B.C. The milk is collected from the farms and shipped to some of the 30 to 40 licensed processors in the province which pasteurize the milk.
Those milk processors include some large plants in Abbotsford, Coquitlam and Vancouver.
“As farmers, it’s disheartening dumping away a seemingly good product because it can’t go to market due to the flooding. Hopefully it’s a short-term issue.”
He says they’re fortunate because farmers are still getting paid for the milk that they’re dumping.
“It’s sad but it also could lead to health issues. You don’t want to contribute to people going to the hospital,” Schmidt said.
“There’s enough milk being dumped that would feed Chilliwack for a long time but it can’t be stored indefinitely and because there’s no transportation routes out, it’s a consequence of the flooding.”
Another concern is feed for the cows. Grain is in low supply and although cows also eat hay and corn silage, grain is the key feed for high milk production.
“If you completely take the grain out of their diet that they’re accustomed and trained to, it will have devastating affects on their milk production that can last for up to a year.”
Schmidt is hoping the highways will open soon so dairy farmers have more access to grain mills like those in Abbotsford, and so the milk can get picked up.
Milk pick-up happens every two days. Schmidt’s last pick-up day was Monday in the pouring rain but it did not get picked up on Wednesday (Nov. 17). His next pickup day is Friday (Nov. 19) and he’s hoping the roads will be open again for that to happen.
“I would assume movement of milk would be considered an essential service. The factories right now in Vancouver and Coquitlam are not getting enough milk to supply the area that they could distribute to.”