DFA on managing through the pandemic
A leader with the largest dairy cooperative in the U.S. says they formed a COVID-19 task force and small executive team to manage through the pandemic.
DFA vice president Dennis Rodenbaugh, during his presentation before the Kansas City AgriBusiness Council last week, said, “We did work to reduce the contact of our member farms, we wanted to keep them healthy. We minimized our truck drivers contact by changing how we pick up milk at the farms and how we delivered it at the processing plants. We wanted to keep the processing plant employees healthy and their families healthy.”
Rodenbaugh says DFA adopted a remote workforce of one-thousand, is working on getting enough personal protective equipment for workers and how to transition back AFTER the pandemic.
“We don’t know when but we know we need to develop the process for when we move back into whatever normalcy is going to look like as we move forward.”
As of last week, five of DFA’s 85-hundred employees had tested positive for the virus. Rodenbaugh says the dramatic change in demand pushed the co-op into crisis level.
“The cows simply can’t be turned off so we had no choice but to then implement our crises plans as our last resort, and that’s asking our farms to put milk into the lagoons or dumping milk into regulated sites.”
And, he says DFA is paying its members for dumped milk, “That’s not a long term solution but it is a critical value of being part of our cooperative.”
Rodenbaugh says they’re also seeking all the government support they can, using as many tools as quickly as possible to help members get through this. Rodenbaugh was on a Kansas City AgriBusiness Council online meeting in mid-April.