Photo by Burke/Triolo Productions via Getty Images

Yes, we've got milk 

Mike Pomranz
October 17, 2018

Can I interest you in a nice, refreshing glass of milk? No? Then you probably don’t want 145 million pounds of milk either, huh? That’s how much milk has been dumped by farmers in the Northeast alone this year through to July, according to Bloomberg, and things don’t appear to be looking up for the milk industry anytime soon.

The days of Americans regularly downing milk as a beverage—something Bloomberg describes as being in a “long decline” —are unlikely to come back. But the business site suggests that the dairy industry once had another opportunity to be optimistic about: yogurt. The increased demand for Greek yogurt that blossomed about a decade ago made many milk producers excited, and farmers even added more cows to help fill the need from brands like Chobani. But now, the Greek yogurt market has leveled off. (Who knew the milk industry was so tied to trends?) Considering other factors like Trump’s trade war and a lack of export demand, many dairy farmers are reportedly struggling.

But beyond farmers’ livelihood, another issue emerges. A lot of that excess milk has nowhere to go. “We employ many tactics to find a home for our members’ milk, such as additional sales, drying, donating the milk or moving the milk to other areas where we can find demand,” Nichole Wenderlich Owens, a spokesperson for Dairy Farmers of America, was quoted as saying. “After exhausting all options, if an imbalance still exists, raw milk may be disposed.” 

In July alone, Northeast dairy farmers reportedly dumped 23.6 million pounds of milk—which roughly translates to over 2.5 million gallons. That’s a lot of excess milk—and now the challenge becomes what else can be done with it? Bloomberg says that plenty of plans are on the table, from a processed milk-based recovery drink for athletes to getting more milk, to the hungry to just doing a better job of marketing milk. “I don’t think we’ve exploited all the market share that we could,” Richard A. Ball, commissioner of New York’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, told the site.

Or, you know, you could just go back to eating more Greek yogurt. What? You suddenly think you’re too good for Greek yogurt? Who the hell do you think you are?!

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