Oregon, Idaho Dairy Industries Preparing for the Eclipse

Dairies in the Northwest have started prepping for the Aug. 21 eclipse by scheduling milk hauls and feed deliveries in advance of the once in a lifetime event. The eclipse will cross the U.S. from west to east and it is the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire contiguous U.S. since June 8, 1918.

Oregon will be the first state to experience the eclipse with it traveling west to east across the entire state. The Oregon Department of Transportation is expecting close to a million visitors during the eclipse.

The mass of people could slow down traffic particularly for those dairies closer to the Pacific coast, says Josh Thomas, director of communications for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council.

Thomas has heard farmers in Oregon are preparing for the eclipse by getting milk hauled out earlier or after the eclipse.

Officials at the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association are advising their members to schedule feed shipments ahead of the eclipse to limit the risk of being impacted by traffic. Oregon Dairy Farmers Association officials are also encouraging producers to work with their milk haulers to schedule times that won’t conflict with the heavy traffic expected.

In neighboring Idaho, the eclipse will go mostly across the Salmon Challis National Forest and Sawtooth National Forest. However, the eclipse will be near or run right across a few major dairy areas near Boise and Idaho Falls. 

The Division of Motor Vehicles is limiting commercial truck traffic by implementing a “holiday protocol.” Beginning Sunday, Aug. 20th at 4 p.m. and ending at dawn Aug. 22 loads exceeding 10’ wide, 100’ long or 14’6” may not travel on Interstate or State highways south of Lewiston.

Idaho’s Department of Transportation is asking agricultural vehicles to follow these same requirements.

Rick Naerbout, director of operations for the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, hasn’t heard of any dairies planning for disruptions since much of the milk and feed hauling is being done locally.

“I think the main corridors on the highways will be busy with traffic, but much of our dairy transportation needs will be on local roads so it shouldn’t be too bad,” Naerbout says. “The bulk of our milk transport is on rural roads and many of the processors are located in a close proximity to the dairies.”

Naerbout does expect travel in those areas along the path of totality to be “chaotic” but it shouldn’t impact dairy operations. It is estimated by GreatAmericanEclipse.com that as many as 370,000 people will travel to the path of totality in Idaho. 

Despite the transportation concerns, local Redmond, Ore. dairy processor Eberhard's Dairy is hoping to cash in on the eclipse with a specialty “Solar Swirl” ice cream. 

“Solar Swirl” was created by Marissa White, who won a contest to create a special ice cream for Eberhard’s Dairy specifically for the eclipse. The solar themed desert is vanilla based ice cream with caramel swirls, marshmallows, and small fudge chunks. The ice cream is being sold locally in Oregon at ice cream parlors and grocery stores.

T-shirts are being sold by the dairy processor to celebrate the event, too. The ice cream is even being featured on the Today Show on Thursday.

In eastern Idaho, a corn maze has been cut at New Sweden Farms to celebrate the unique event. The maze will be opened early just for the eclipse, prior to the regular fall opening. 

We’ll have more eclipse coverage on Thursday featuring several dairies across the country that are capitalizing on their unique location along the path of totality for the eclipse.