The U.S. Government Just Bought $50 Million Dollars’ Worth of Milk. Here’s Why That Matters.

According to ABC News, The U.S. Department of Agriculture is buying 11 to 13 million gallons of milk from dairy farmers for $50 million, citing surplus due to record-low consumption.

Under a program that allows the government to buy excess food or agricultural products and redirect them to food banks or school nutrition programs, this is the first time the USDA has purchased a surplus of liquid milk.

But it’s not the first time the government has stepped in to help the dying dairy industry. Earlier this year, the United States Senate signed a budget agreement to hand over $1 billion of taxpayer money to the dairy industry. Supporters of the agreement claimed the money would be used for programs to help the industry recover from falling dairy prices.

What’s more, in 2016, after a group of legislators urged the USDA to help dairy farmers, the department bought 11 million pounds of cheese—20 million dollars’ worth—to reduce surplus inventories.

According to a 2013 USDA report, dairy consumption has been on the decline for decades, with each generation consuming less milk than the one before. In fact, CBS New York reports that fluid milk consumption has fallen a whopping 37 percent since 1970.

Further proof that the dairy industry is hurting, Dean Foods—America’s largest dairy company—announced a plan to shift focus to its plant-based brands. Additionally, the company best known for manufacturing, marketing, and distributing dairy-based products such as DairyPure and TruMoo recently made headlines after it closed an Illinois facility, citing a decline in consumption. Dean Foods predicts more closures as consumers ditch dairy products in favor of plant-based options.

A recent survey from agribusiness giant Cargill reveals that half of U.S. dairy consumers also use vegan dairy alternatives. With so many dairy consumers using plant-based alternatives, the dairy industry is losing a significant portion of its business.

Dean Foods must know that the future is vegan. It’s one of many companies taking steps to adapt to the consumer shift away from animal products. Food giant Danone, famous for its yogurt, recently invested nearly $60 million in a plant-based beverage facility in Mount Crawford, Virginia. Danone also dropped its animal-based dairy brand Stonyfield. And Elmhurst Dairy in Queens, New York, closed its doors after 90 years in business and switched to making plant-based milks!

While dairy consumption continues to decline and farmers are forced to turn to other industries, the plant-based market is thriving. A 2017 report by the Plant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute shows a more than 20 percent increase from the previous year in purchases of dairy alternatives, such as vegan cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, for a total of over $700 million in sales.

The decline in dairy consumption is great news for cows, who are treated as mere milk-producing machines, forcibly impregnated, and kept in terrible conditions. Shortly after calves are born, they are torn away from their mothers. Male calves are killed for veal. Females are forced into the dairy herd, trapped in a cycle of abuse for years until they are considered “spent and sent to slaughter.

Sounds terrible, right? Just watch this undercover video from a Mercy For Animals investigation.

Fortunately, you can avoid drinking pus and contributing to this cruel industry by adopting a healthy and compassionate vegan diet. Click here to get started. And check out our Pinterest page for thousands of recipe ideas!

For a list of dairy alternatives, click here.