Got milk? Dairy bar faces inventory shortages from lingering effects of dairy fire

Brynn Lozinski, Reporter

The SDSU Dairy Club has cut two flavors and sought assistance from Dimock Dairy to satisfy the cheese needs of the public after a long-term shortage in milk production.

The plant has started by getting more milk two times a week to fill the 6,000-gallon silos to meet volume and has focused on the core ice cream flavors of Vanilla, Chocolate, Cookies and Cream and Barry Berry.

The shortage

The shortage, in part, was caused by the Feb. 8 farm fire. It destroyed part of one Dairy Research and Training Facility barn and made it uninhabitable for dairy cattle to be housed there until repairs were made. The derecho that swept through Brookings in May delayed repairs.

According to officials representing the Dairy Research and Training Facility, the fire left behind around $500,000 worth of damage, which was fortunately covered by insurance. However, the fire’s impact continues to be felt.

“We reduced the herd by half,” Joseph Cassady, head of the dairy and food science department, said in September. “We went from roughly 135 cows to 70.”

Steven Beckman, SDSU Davis Dairy Plant manager, emphasized that the plant has taken several steps to ensure that production was not majorly affected by the events.

Increasing production

The dairy unit is taking steps to increase milk production by rebuilding the herd through research, buying new cattle and natural growth to get back to the number of cattle seen before the dairy barn fire. The unit is on track to be back to roughly 135 cows by March.

Lower milk production is mainly affecting cheese production. With high ice cream sales in the summer months, not much milk was left over for cheese to age and obtain flavor.   

As the holidays come around the corner, Dairy Club is feeling the impacts of the shortage. After hitting an all-time high in cheese box sales last December, the club may face some challenges this year. 

The club hopes to see cheese boxes go all the way to Hawaii and outside the country to increase sales and raise money for trips, scholarships and philanthropy of the group.

Arlinna Bowen, a senior studying dairy manufacturing, is an employee at the plant with a role in production involving safety and quality.

Bowen is involved in the Dairy Club’s cheese boxes and brings a student perspective to the flex dollars. Additionally, Bowen advises students order specialty ice cream flavors early before they are gone, otherwise you may end up with your options being Vanilla and Chocolate. 

Bowen hopes that the quantity of cheese will go up and that the student-made flavors will come back to be featured in the Dairy Bar.

“Milk loads are getting higher, intake and products are coming in and getting caught up,” Bowen said.

Students that plan to use their excess flex dollars on SDSU ice cream and cheese to take home to their families during the holiday break should have no trouble getting classic flavors and products at the Dairy Bar this winter.

“Looking forward to 2023, we hope for more cows, more ice cream and more cheese,” Beckman said.