That's according to a growing number of dairy farmers who are in the doldrums due to plummeting prices. In case you missed it, farm prices for milk are in free-fall. Many people think we'll lose half of our dairies within the next 5-10 years. Of course, you haven't seen prices drop in the retail store; they're just dropping at the farm gate.The reasons are many. It's not just one thing; it's a perfect storm of several things:
1. Declining milk consumption. The anti-animal movement expresses itself in many ways, including the notion that milking a cow is tantamount to stealing from her and that cows destroy the planet.
2. Beverage competition from soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk and others. These alternative liquids enjoy special concessions and a look-the-other-way mentality regarding externalized expenses and damages.
3. Industrial pasteurized milk is junk. It tastes like chalk, gives you gas and constipation, makes you feel bloated, and is full of pus (somatic cell count). It's just not fun or fulfilling to drink junk milk.
4. Ultra pasteurized conventional and organic milk is bland and nutrient deficient.
All of this is sending shock waves through the dairy industry. So Jim Goodman, president of the National Family Farm Coalition (doesn't that sound nice?) and a dairy farmer himself, says "I think some of the things that can be done immediately, especially in the conventional sector are an immediate $20 floor price for milk--this will keep farmers from going out of business. The USDA can purchase excess commodities for distribution in food banks. USDA and Congress should initiate hearings on the milk pricing formula because the way it's working now is unfair to farmers. We need to think about implementing a supply management system like they have in Canada, which has kept farmers farming, supplies domestic needs and ensures fair prices for both farmers and consumers."
I've been going to Canada about 5 times a year for nearly 20 years. When Canada instituted its quota system it made instant millionaires out of the dairy farmers. By establishing supply management, it shut out thousands of aspiring dairy farmers from ever entering the business. Today, quota is often worth 3-5 times the property value of a dairy farm.
Furthermore, it artificially keeps milk prices high, which hurts the average consumer. It makes sure existing dairies do not face competition from innovative upstarts. The only people who really like quotas are the folks who have it. Otherwise, it's bad for everyone.
You will hear more on this as the crisis increases. Nice, honest and honorable farmers will dramatically tell their sob stories and ask you to love them into protective legislation. The stories will tear your heart out.
But the answer is not a supply management system. The answer is freedom in the marketplace so the good dairies thrive and the bad dairies fail. Why is dairying different than tomatoing, peppering, beefing, chickening, or any other item? Are we going to develop supply management for all of these items? Where does it stop?
Have you talked to a dairy farmer recently?