Dairy Desperation: Farmers Forced to Dump Cow’s Milk

Dairy farmers are spilling cow’s milk, literally, on the ground.

A few factors contribute to this dumping. Dairy farmers say that older processing plants haven’t been able to keep up with the amount of milk being produced by cows. In addition, consumption of dairy milk is down. There has been a massive loss of markets; some of this loss can be attributed to Covid affecting schools and businesses. But as consumers become increasingly aware of the negative effect dairy has on health, the environment, and animals, more of them are ditching dairy.

According to the USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) food availability data, Americans have been drinking less and less fluid cow’s milk on a per person basis since the mid-1940s. The rate of decline, however, has increased recently. Between 1995 and 2009, ERS data show that the per-person U.S. supply of cow’s milk available for consumption fell at an average annual rate of 1.0 percent. From 2010 to 2017, per capita availability fell at an average rate of almost 2.5 percent a year.

Plant-based milk alternatives do play a small role in the decline. Grocery store shelves and refrigerated cases offer a variety of plant-based milks. Industry statistics show almond-based products are the most popular, but cashew, soy, oat, and rice options, among others, are also available.

Help us advocate for the dairy cows and bring the demand for cow’s milk down further by joining ARC activists at the Minnesota State Fair for our mnfairwatch campaign.

Image: Thompson Dairy near Lewiston Minnesota dumping their supply. Image by WCCO.