The potential presence of a strain of clostridium botulinum in the whey protein concentrate WPC80 has taken farmers from the highs of last week's payout forecast into a rather deep ravine.
One insanitary pipe at Fonterra's Hautapu factory must not be allowed to define 120 years of hard work.
Integrity is the most important asset we have and the reaction here and abroad is completely understandable. People want to know what they consume is not only nutritious but safe, especially where children are involved.
In my years of farming, I have come to realise things are never as good or as bad as they first seem; they are just what they are.
Federated Farmers believes the regulatory response in New Zealand and overseas has been appropriate and responsible.
One positive we can take is that this recall stems from Fonterra's own product testing - Fonterra blew the whistle on Fonterra. Consumers deserve to know that the wider product recall was completely precautionary, too.
What this means is that just under three million tonnes of Fonterra product is unaffected. That's one key message.
Another is that all the products produced by New Zealand's other dairy processors should be unaffected by Fonterra's precautionary recall of this one product line.
To get our dairy products moving again we must be honest, upfront and accessible in reassuring our customers and consumers.
It is great to see how much time senior government ministers are investing in what is an important issue for us all. A bouquet must go to the Opposition parties for standing shoulder to shoulder with the Government.
This allows our officials the time and space to do their job. Everyone seems to recognise our consumers deserve facts and not speculation.
Wherever they are, we must ensure our consumers have easy access to the information they need and in a format and language they understand.
There will be a reckoning but now isn't the time for grand gestures.
The "who, what, why, when, where and how" questions demand answers but right now, our single priority must be reassuring our markets, regulators and consumers that almost all of New Zealand's dairy products are not only safe, but of the highest quality.
This week, we started getting market indicators of where things might head.
Yesterday's GlobalDairyTrade auction saw a small correction of 2.4 per cent but with much higher volumes put through. There's the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund but as market access remains fluid, it's hard to gauge.
As a very wise man with a lot of experience on trade matters told me, the tide is still going out. It is hard to disagree.
Another marker is Class III milk futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Off the back of the recall, Class III milk futures for September delivery initially rose by 2 per cent but then slipped back.
Reuters commented: "US milk prices fell about 4 per cent on Tuesday to their lowest levels in more than a year on abundant cheese inventories and as investors moved beyond the news that New Zealand's Fonterra ... did not face a ban by China over whey product contamination."
On the other hand, analyst Alicia Forry of London's Canaccord Genuity said: "This will probably drive prices higher. In the short term it will cause demand to shift to other areas around the globe that might be able to step in and provide product."
This is easier said than done because dairying is the most capital-intensive form of farming land use. Outside the major dairy exporters, this tends to lock in small-scale, almost craft-based systems.
While New Zealand is the largest dairy exporter, we are only the world's eighth-largest dairy producer. Pakistan, for example, produces twice the amount of milk we do.
What makes us unique is that we don't drink most of what we produce so we export it and that is due to having the right infrastructure, systems and access to capital. It may surprise some to learn, given our sometimes tetchy relationship with the banks, that they are arguably the secret to our success.
The banks here support dairying's unique capital needs and that is a unique competitive advantage.
This must not detract from the serious and fluid situation we currently face, but facing it we are. If you are a consumer and have concerns, call the consumer number listed on the tin, bottle or container you are holding.
Alternatively, go to www.mpi.govt.nz for the latest facts and for further telephone numbers such as PlunketLine and Healthline. Farmers know our only priority now is food safety assurance and ensuring our consumers have the information they need.
Willy Leferink is Federated Farmers dairy chairman.