According to Dairy Herd Management, an industry media outlet, 338 dairy farms in Wisconsin, the country’s second-largest dairy-producing state, have closed their doors this year.
Known as America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin was home to 9,520 dairy farms last year, but owing to a decline in milk consumption, the state is seeing a record number of farms shutting down. In fact, since this time last year, closures have increased 30 percent.
Earlier this year international dairy company Arla Foods announced it would end its contracts with 11 dairy farms in the state, citing “increased production and market volatility.”
But it’s not just Wisconsin dairy farmers who are unable to stay in business because of dwindling demand for their product; this is happening all around the United States. In New York, the third-largest dairy-producing state, more than 60 dairy farmers have shut their doors in the past 40 years.
What’s more, America’s largest dairy company, Dean Foods, recently announced the closure of an Illinois facility due to a decline in consumption. And earlier this year Dean Foods issued a notice to dozens of dairy suppliers that it would not renew their contracts, because lack of consumer demand had resulted in overproduction of milk.
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.
A recent survey from agribusiness giant Cargill reveals that half of U.S. dairy consumers also use vegan dairy alternatives. As a result, the dairy industry is losing a significant portion of its business.
The dairy industry knows that the future is vegan, and many companies are taking steps to adapt to the consumer shift away from animal products. For instance, 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 milk!
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.
Heartbreaking, 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.