The Future of Milk

By David Goodman, "The Future of Milk," July/August 2010

As small dairy farms are vanishing, what is happening to our milk?

"Skip the milk produced by the big commercial dairy farms. Better yet, go vegan or vegetarian and support dairy and cattle farmers that switch to growing vegetables and fruit which are more healthy and ecological alternatives. Too much of...

The reasons for the crisis are many. Bob Yonkers, chief economist at the International Dairy Foods Association, explains it this way: “We had record-high milk prices between 2004 and 2008. Farmers here responded by increasing milk production, which fed an increasing global demand for milk products. Then the recession hit.” Exports dropped. Americans continued to cut back on milk. And milk prices crashed in 2009.

But as small farms fail or are displaced by massive factory farms, there have also been allegations of price fixing by major dairy processors and suppliers, which the U.S. Justice Department is now investigating. As Paul Rozwadowski, of the National Family Farm Coalition puts it, “Oversupply is a myth. The reason farmers receive so little for their milk is that a few big corporate interests set the price.”

At stake is not just a way of life. It’s the open space that farmland preserves. It’s the variety of local cheeses, each with a unique taste. It’s knowing where your food comes from.

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