Serving You, Today and Everyday.Statement by FarmFirst President John Rettler
Dear FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Members:
We have found ourselves facing new, unprecedented challenges. Knowing how this will impact so many families and small businesses is gut wrenching. There is great uncertainty for everyone as we navigate these challenges and work to get through this pandemic.
While there is much uncertainty and unknown, as the next few weeks unfold, I wanted to reassure you of a few things:
1. FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, Family Dairies USA and Fox Valley Quality Control Lab will remain open. We’ve initiated and are implementing procedures to keep our staff healthy. Visitors may be limited, and the doors may be locked but the lights are on, we are here and the phones are open. Staff are ready to take your call. Family Dairies USA continues to market your milk as we have done every day before, and the Fox Valley Quality Control Lab continues to run milk and water tests for every sample coming in. We will continue to be operating and serving you in every way we can.
2. Resources are available. Please visit our coronavirus webpage if you are looking for additional resources related to COVID-19.
3. Be creative in keeping children engaged – and safe – on the farm. For many, children are back at home several months earlier than normal. Families that are looking for creative lessons and new resources to engage children and keep them safe are encouraged to visit and explore some resources available at our coronavirus webpage. The school year isn’t over yet! Consider looking here for some creative lessons that can take place on the farm. We encourage everyone to take the extra time to ensure the safety of everyone on the farm, especially as spring planting is right around the corner.
4. Promotion of dairy is especially important during a time of crisis. When news broke that households needed to begin social distancing and limit interaction in public places, the dairy case in most grocery stores became empty. On one hand, this is a great thing, to know that the general public recognizes the value of and role of milk and dairy products in a healthy diet. Unfortunately, empty shelves meant that other families looking for milk may not have been able to purchase milk when they needed to. Please remember that empty shelves do not signify that there is a supply issue but rather a logistics issue at the retail level. Simply put, consumers are purchasing products like dairy faster than they can arrive to the store and be put on the shelves. There is enough food in warehouses and coming from suppliers that no one should worry about a food shortage. While limiting their time in public spaces, everyone should know they can get milk and other dairy products for their families.
5. We are in this together. This is the most important… As this pandemic unfolds, it is important for you to know that you are not in this alone. FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative has been working with industry partners to ensure that every option is explored to ensure dairy farmers receive the best opportunity to move beyond this pandemic and its economic impact. I assure you – our Congressional leaders are thinking about you, your family, and the future of your business. We are working with other processors across the Midwest to ensure that plants can continue operating as much as they normally would this time of year. Please know that we all are doing our best.
We will get through this. Unfortunately, I’m afraid it will last longer than we’d like and impact us in ways we never thought possible. We have faith that we can find measures to support you and your businesses through this crisis. Please stay connected for additional information we share via social media channels along with posting on our website and our weekly e-newsletter.
John Rettler, President