USDA bails out dairy farms, is this the start of the milk market collapse?

by | August 21, 2018

Got Milk? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they have given an eye-opening, fifty million US dollars to buy dairy products, and disperse them to food banks, in an effort to encourage people to continue consuming dairy. 

Using a Great Depression law, Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, to legitimize purchasing the dairy, even though it is now the first time in history to do so. They plan to disperse it around the country to people who depend on governmental assistance programs and food banks. 

 According to the USDA, it authorized the purchase “to encourage the continued domestic consumption of these products by diverting them from the normal channels of trade and commerce.”

Sales of milk have been in decline, as plant-based milks are on the rise, while Wisconsin, one of the leading dairy states, lost 500 farms last year as producers struggle to remain profitable, according to that state’s agriculture department. 

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According to Innova Market Insights, the worldwide plant-milk market is estimated to reach $16 billion by 2018. Alternatives are no longer only being consumed by people with allergies and intolerances. People are waking up and realizing the health risks and animal cruelty that go along with dairy consumption, and plant milk companies are listening to the demand and are providing a plethora of options; delicious, better for you, cruelty-free and better for the environment. 

“As many as 41 million Americans, including nearly 13 million children, face hunger daily and are at risk of missing out on essential nutrients when they don’t have access to milk,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) president and CEO. “Simply having more milk available for those in need can make a positive impact on public health.”

Yet, a growing body of health institutions and medical professionals are vocal about the dangers of milk products on our health, especially on growing children. The bailout of the industry, that specifically targets low-income community who according to the Hill, ‘doesn’t deserve a tax bailout’ 

“If we are going to pass a bill for the good of the country, we need to learn the lessons of history, rather than continuing to throw good money after bad. Like spoiled milk, market-distorting dairy industry handouts need to be thrown out”

Joanna Grossman, Ph.D The Good Food Institute
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As the conservative Heritage Foundation notes, agricultural subsidies cost taxpayers about $20 billion a year: “This includes a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to mostly large agribusinesses that are (or should be) fully capable of managing their business operations without this special treatment. The end result is less choice for consumers, distorted prices, reduced innovation, and onerous government influence.” 

Compared to another industry, such as Coca-Cola, if they produced an enormous surplus every year, and the government instituted a federal ‘buy out’, disrupting free cola bottles and cans around to low-income areas, there would be a very loud and clear backlash towards the unhealthy choices that are being subjected to people under the guise of ‘help’, and the dairy industry is no different. The demand is not there, the population is shifting towards a healthier plant-based milk. 

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Animal Equality’s photograph shows calves penned in this the hutches at Grange Dairy in East Chaldon, Dorset. Photograph: Animal Equality/PA

Why The Shift From Milk?

In reality, the daily practices of most dairy farms are more distressing than those of meat production. A mother cow only produces milk when she gets pregnant. So, starting from the age of 15 months, she will usually be artificially inseminated. Farmers mechanically draw semen from a bull, and then force the female cow into a narrow trap, known as a “cattle crush”, where they will brutally impregnate her. After giving birth, the calf is usually taken from her within thirty-six hours (if not instantly) according to the Guardian

Comedian, Ahmed Bahoocha, joked, that what we do to the cows is ‘taking too far’.  We eat them, wear their skin, and do all the regular acceptable horrific actions to them. Yet, then we eat their babies, and then eat their babies food, on top of all of that, we take pictures of our missing children, and put it on the milk cartons. ‘Sorry for killing your kid, but have you seen mine?’ 

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As George Monboit said, Even the planet’s most shameless and gifted spin doctors would find it hard to put a positive angle on the brutal reality of most dairy farms.

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Emma Williams

Associate Editor, USA | Contactable via emma@raisevegan.com

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