agriculture, environment, Essays, latest, United States
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End of an Era: Big Agriculture and the Fall of American Dairy

J Birchfield

The old windmill on the Birchfield family farm. (Flint & Walling model Star 24, circa 1924)

The ongoing American dairy farmer debacle deeply bothers me, and every time I see another reference to it I’m forcing myself to think it through. Extra cheap milk in which to dunk your Oreos it would seem is the new cultural norm, along with some of the highest suicide rates farm families have ever seen. Disturbing.

Social media posts, written articles, viral videos are all so eager to put on display the ‘been doing it for half a century’ old and broken head of the family farm, his wrinkled face crying, hugging a few of his closest family members, heads hung low and shoulders slouched, all taking in their last few moments of existence as tough, gritty, incredibly consistent, and innovative American dairy farmers.

Over time, you either tune it out or embrace the collective nostalgia that for some has turned to anger and depression, crying out through the ripped and torn cultural fabric almost as intensely as a mamma cow mourns a dead calf. Of course, all along generating the buzz that dead things generate and all the ad revenue which follows. We’re witnessing the end of an era with more healthy norms and values sure to disappear along with it.

I suppose when something is taken, many times the only thing we can do is look back and reflect on better, more idyllic days. For the few, brief moments after watching the profit drumming drama, we feel sorry…at least until the next bombarding buffet of fingertip, free-choice media sagas show up mid-scroll.

When all the ads have been sold and our minds and souls exhausted from the digital onslaught of our own choosing, the dust settles and we wonder, “Ok, who is really to blame here?” My knee jerk every time is Wal-muck, and ignorant consumers still shopping there buying 48 cent gallons of milk. How could they?? Don’t they know all the hidden cultural evils baked into the cake, or bad bread, or cheap Chinese plastic thing that lasts for 2 days then piles on our landfills?? Seriously, how could they???

Well, we do because it’s cheap and convenient, and Wal-muck can because milk is a loss leader positioned at the back of the store, so they still make money. And in the world of big government capitalism, those with the most green bills and authoritative favor at the end of the day get to stay alive, no matter if dairy farmers could buy Wal-muck milk and fill their bulk tanks and sell it back to them and do better, or not. Sure, they are part of the problem, but Wal-muck thrives, mostly because we all still shop there. Let’s travel deeper.

Dairy farms have been a lot like the rest of American agriculture, large numbers of small farms producing a little, small numbers of large farms producing most all, with little in between. And it’s a crystal clear message that’s been sent throughout the decades over and over and over to American farm families: “Get BIG, or GET OUT.”

Most think the trend started with industrialization, but the truth is man has been enslaving man like this from the beginning of time, the free gifts of God twisted and perverted until unrecognizable.

The American dairy farmer is exceptionally dedicated and must work hard several times a day…every. single. day. As a farmer myself, I would imagine at the end of the day there’s just not much left of time, energy, or brain for managing the sale and distribution of final product, especially at a vulnerable time when industry really took off. And the best part of the small family farm was that it was mostly human powered and fiercely independent.

I wonder, could it be that hard working humanity, once again worn down and lured by the ease of all that sparkles, made the decision to let the slithering snake of over-civilized suit and tie whisper in its ear? Can you hear it?

“This is EASIER and will make you BIG with LESS effort.”
“Don’t you see how well your neighbor is doing?”
“Trust us, this IS the future.”
“You can BUY what your family needs and be BETTER.”

So the big, silver tanker truck pulls up with contract and you sign and pump…until one day it doesn’t.

It’s fascinating how we are so deeply disturbed collectively by the disappearing dairy farmer. Perhaps it is because humble farming is where we all collectively come from and opposite where we are collectively headed. America is now beyond dairy farming. America is beyond family farming. We have arrived at a new normal: systemic money farming, no matter the costs or lives in the way. Make no mistake, after you pledge allegiance, the master of American industrial money farming will have no mercy on you, your family, your health, or your farm.

But I’m not railing on the victims so much as I am digging down and unearthing that which is rarely mentioned: the real cost. When we fully align ourselves, our families, and our resources with this one-dimensional industrialized system, not only must we be willing and able to endure its destructive practices, but we must also be able to watch as many simultaneously and quite heinously profit off our demise. Like a mamma cow with the young calf tortured by black vultures, there comes a point where all we can do is watch…the difference being the vultures are only there for the flesh.


30 Comments

  1. Here is something serendipitous to expand the theme in unexpected directions – from an article relating to transmutation of elements by bacterial or biotic enzyme activity.

    Americans consume more calcium and milk products than just about any country in the world, yet we have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis. (The Harvard study of 77,761 nurses found that persons with a high dietary calcium intake actually had 45% more hip fractures over 12 years than those with the lowest intake. (Diane Feskanich, Sc.D., et al. “Milk, Dietary Calcium, and Bone Fractures in Women: A 12-Year Prospective Study”, Am. J. Pub. Health, 87:6; 992-997, June 1997). A 1994 study of elderly men and women in Sidney, Australia found that those with the highest milk product consumption had approximately double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption, Cumming RG, Klineberg RJ, “Case-control study of risk factors for hip fractures in the elderly”, Am. J. Epidemiol., 1994; 139:493- 50.
    Rural Chinese do not consume milk products or take calcium supplements, and their average calcium intake was 544 mg. per day (approximately half that of the RDA in the U.S.). Among these Chinese women over age 50, the rate of bone fractures is about one fifth as high as in Western nations. (T. Colin Campbell, Hunshi Chen, Diet in Rural China, Lippincott/Williams & Wilkins, 1999; Hu, J-F, Zhao, X-H, Hia, J-B, Parpi, B., Campbell, T.C., “Dietary calcium and bone density among middle-aged and elderly women in China,”, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1993; 58: 219-217).
    Milking cows experience a daily “deficit” of calcium (and phosphorus) at such a great rate that in one year’s time, its bones would be seriously depleted if it got its calcium from calcium. (Kervran, Swan House Pub., pp. 57, 67-68; A. Demolon and A. Marquet, Le Phosphore et la Vie, P.U.F. Pub., Paris 1949). However, if silica and magnesium (Mg + O = Ca) in the grass are considered as sources of calcium through transmutation, as shown by Kervran, there is no mystery and no deficit because grass contains large amounts of silica and magnesium.
    Broken bones have been shown to heal much more quickly when a source of organic silica such as the herb horsetail is provided. (Kervran has excellent photos of x-rays showing rapid healing with horsetail, (Kervran, Swan House Pub., p. 137)
    Broken bones have been shown to heal much more quickly when foods high in calcium such as milk products are withheld. (E. Plisnier, Sauvez votre sante, Edit. P.I.C. Bruxelles, 1966; Kervran, Swan House Pub., pp. 145-146)

    From “MICROBES IN GEOLOGY: part 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Earl Staelin – Excerpted from:
    THOTH
    VOL VI, No 6
    Sept 30, 2002

    This perspective is largely new to me – though I was aware of transmutation under high energy conditions (Plasma physics) and of living biota found in Jurassic rock (Bechamps experiments with ferments etc).

    In complimenting the information quoted I have already posted regarding the qualitative difference of unpasteurized milk (living enzymes) and various other facets of Big ‘milk’.
    But I am also aware that Vitamin K2 is a critical part of our diet – not only but importantly with regard to the proper placement of calcium in the body (which also comes FROM our bones and teeth and not just TO them.

    Vit K2 is what Weston Price partly identified earlier as ‘activating factor X’ – which he made from spring butter of grass fed cows. K2 insufficiency is associated with heart disease and has been shown to remove calcium from arterial plaques – restoring elasticity of the vascular system.

    Grain fed cattle do not provide K2 rich milk or dairy products. I found out about K2 in relation to D3 supplementation (The Sunshine ‘vitamin’ or hormone that we are collectively shepherded into depriving ourselves of by demonising sunshine just as we did butter). So search ” D3 and K2 ” to easily find information on calcium imbalance and sickness – particularly showing in older women – but of course not only so.

    Educating ourselves is reclaiming real choice in place of being false framed by manipulative intent from others or as acquired in our own social conditioning and adaptation. Making real choices grows the capacity and expands the perspective. Perhaps the first of such is a decision NOT to automatically react and thus ‘choose’ only within the framework set by what we are reacting to.

  2. Toby says

    Humans do not need to drink cow’s milk or even human milk after weening. We therefore do so for pleasure. There is plenty of evidence that it is unhealthy.

    The economic viability of taking another animal’s milk for human consumption in a humane way – i.e. no rape of the mother, all babies born allowed to ween naturally from the mother and not sent to slaughter thereafter, and some sort of partnership-based milking of any excess milk from the mother, etc. – has yet to be demonstrated. I know of one case where this was attempted (can’t find a link to the article) without success. To generate profits as a dairy farmer strongly appears to require exploitation and abuse, even on those small organic farms.

    As to what happens to dairy/domesticated/livestock animals in a possible vegan future, being vegan the solutions we hit upon would benefit those animals as much as possible, as well as the farmers impacted by the transition. Non-exploitation and respectful treatment of all earthlings, including other humans, is a pivotal principle of veganism.

    • Everyone gathers the evidence for what they want true.
      If you truly – honour life you will beware the intent to use grievance and guilt as a leverage for self-righteous hate running as political agenda or social engineering and Be the Life rather than mask or host such a hatred of life under a self-elected protection racket.

      I feel to support living choices and note that since Pasteur’s ideas were fitted to power, milk is effectively dead. So almost any study of the effects of milk is likely to relate to dead milk, as well as the more recent removal of life supporting fats, or the homogenisation of such fats to a particulate size that may penetrate the gut-barrier – giving rise to immune response, inflammation etc.
      Also the rearing of livestock under life-denying conditions of relationship, room to move, and the nature of their food, has of course made them malnourished, toxic and sick and thus applied antibiotics.

      So the whole nature of BigAg is a way to toxify and sicken ourselves in spirit and in body – and yet it operates as a logical outcome under BigMoney or a corrupt and rigged system of private self interest.
      Because this generates such a charge of hate or resentment in the ‘people’ it will then require redistribution of charge in an enforced or imposed system of collectivism – or the denial of individuals the relation and room to move and be in their lives, the enforced deprivations and toxicities and medications – because changing the outer forms of things does not in any way change the underlying or core belief-system of coercion and control as the getting of Life, energy, resources or power – FROM the enslavement, denial and death of others.

      I honour your freedom to live your choices, but not as a right to dictate or demonise other choices.
      The post-truth world is the belief that people are unworthy of choice and so will be farmed to operate within a matrix of false or impotent ‘choices’. But the nature of choice is NO choice without a freedom of information upon which to base their decision – and the top-down control of information (which includes astro-turfing movements as proxies for social engineering), operates a tyranny of mind that runs as it were in the shadows unseen.

      A truly bottom up movement is not a rousing of resentment, grievance or outrage to then subvert and incorporate to the ‘established power’ of the day, but the song in our cells, the life in our true being.
      Being the Life is not grievance led or guilt-driven and grows a different structural or cultural expression.
      As long as the device of deceit interjects guilt and grievance – so long will any change be a cosmetic adjustment or ‘medicated’ manipulation to a deeper sickness unaddressed.

  3. USAma Bin Laden says

    This article/rant overlooks a critical issue that most Americans would rather not admit: the American agricultural system in general is not a benevolent entity.

    American agriculture is a fundamental element of the American Empire and its ability to dominate and subjugate other nations through its control over their food supply.

    The United States has effectively weaponized its control over global food production, as a point of leverage against other nations dependent on agricultural imports from America.

    As former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has stated, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

    Moreover, the much-complained decline of the “traditional family farm” is not limited to the USA but rather is a global phenomenon that has been (deliberately) driven by America’s imposition of its “agribusiness” business model throughout the world, particularly since the Uruguay Round of the GATT trade negotiations in the 1980s.

    Getting used to life without food: Wall Street, BP, bio-ethanol and the death of millions
    http://www.voltairenet.org/article170654.html

  4. Christopher Roe says

    I would much prefer that we all began farming sustainably and eating locally even if that included meat and dairy than if we dogmaticaly pronounce veganism as being the way even if it involves massive food miles and large scale agriculture. Everyone is free to follow rhe diet they desire but I resent the idea that veganism is the moral choice because it will save the world, I seriously doubt it will and I see the small scale humane dairy as being something that could dramatically increase our ability to feed ourselves at a local level. I also believe that the age old relationship between humanity and domestic animals is something that is not necessarily based purely on cruelty but is part of what has traditionally given us a sense of our place within nature. Learning to create humane and holistic small scale dairy could be a part of how we grow out of our present malaise, of which factory farming is another gruesome symptom. For a good discussion on animal agriculture including the whole methane global warming debate I very much recommend Simon Fairlie, Meat, a benign extravagance.

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    • rilme says

      There was once an imaginary god, who said to the people: “Thou shalt not kill.”
      But to this day they continue to kill and even eat other mammals and birds.
      It’s not a pretty sight, but worse: it opens the way to killing Asians. How many Asians has the US murdered since 1945?

      • There was once a thought of God that imagined itself as a private or personal power and in the enacting of its fantasy upon the visibility and Tangibility of Expression in Effect, effectively blinded itself to its true condition in the grasping of an a-tempt to control its new sense of ‘self-apart’ set over Life AS IF to Lord over its world.

        But within the madness of a mind divided and set against ITSELF, is the Call for wholeness of being that remains True regardless the runaway beliefs of a mind locked into the death-spiral of its own tale-spin.

        The seeming small ‘Voice’ within, that witnesses or calls for wholeness of being, speaks for the reintegration of that which is masked out or denied by rejection and attack as a result of a driven or tyrannous sense of a need to survive and prevail over a chaos of its own making, but seeking to do so by further adding further layers and levels of attack and denial to its already insane ‘broad spectrum defence system’.

        The Commandments became moral guilting and control, but in truth they are witnessing to an innate integrity that is of God’ Thought or Your Created being, as Law which you CANNOT break or change without breaking your own mind or capacity to recognize truth – while persisting in the WISH or intent to replace and usurp the Truly Shared with your private agenda of personal ‘power and possession’.

        The joining of the will to separate is not a truly shared self OR world – but only joining for what each seeks to GET from it and from the other. This intent is the ‘killing’ of the truth of the other and of our self – because the true movement of our being is a spontaneity of un-selfconscious joy in being truly moved.

        The intent to coerce the movement of our being is the generation of a coercive ‘god’ as the self-justifying mask of a subjective sense of projecting guilt, ‘away’ from the person – onto the ‘other’ and world’

        The worship of the god of guilt will seek and find it in everything because it is built into the very foundation of their thought system as the guarantee of the extension of the past over the presence – into the future – not unlike Orwell’s vision of a boot stamping on a face that can never rise from beneath its denial.

        Imaginary narrative definitions operate with ALL the power we (each and together) GIVE them. What we give power of energy and attention, identification and allegiance TO, is what we THINK will save or protect or profit us. But THINKING can be very wrong even if beneath all error is a ‘rightness of being’ that is your true Inheritance or as I like to say Inherence.

        Imagination given to fear, hate, shame or a sense of lack and grievance, will operate a negative result.
        But the imagination set free of such tyranny is exactly the uncovering of the pathways of release from the mind-SET in self-convicted guilt and punishment.

        WHO is the doer of the human being?
        By what power does this thought, feeling and sensation arise to be experienced?
        If we merely ‘think an answer’ are we in fact asking anything at all, or merely masking self-assertion in the FORM or guise of a question?

        ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is a mistranslation by which to en-guilt ourselves / each other – because at the level of the body, death is inherent to the transformational energetic of the body.

        ‘Thou shalt not murder’ holds a different meaning, and the intent to deny, destroy or eradicate the Living as the pursuance of a private or personal agenda is the ‘original sin or error’ of denying our true Source and Nature and therefore rendering our mind insane under the attempt to manually manage or control its reality as IF it really has become a disconnected, rejected, abandoned, betrayed or unworthiness that has great NEED of power to prevail or survive in such a world without exposure to a hated and feared powerlessness.

        Where true power is of willing alignment in unified purpose, the false works the sacrifice of true to false idols and ideas that SEEM to confer power of protection or notional security – but always against the hated and feared ‘evils’ that are used to ‘justify’ murder of true to maintain the false as IF true. This is a self-replicating or reinforcing of the core negative beliefs in attack or separation from the True of Life as power OVER.

        The filtered distortion of a mind under its own unrecognized and outsourced hate is as one who knows not what they do – regardless if it thinks to know anything at all.

        Hating that death is part of life at the level of the body is the result of murder usurping ‘receiving and giving’. The guilt-driven mind is locked into the body level by definition. Not by God. The belief that God rejects (murders) His Own, is a self-exclusion under an imagined god, whose demands for sacrifice persist and extend a ‘self-deprivation’ while concealing that we do this unto ourselves.

        As we do unto others – so do we set the measure of our own receipt. Factory pharmed humans give witness to the intent to enslave life.

        Creating ‘systems of efficiency’ under utility of private profit over ‘servicing’ humans, profits no one while costing whole-Souled awareness of being. The judgement of good and evil and a personal power is the a-tempt to make reality in your own image – and so to lose your reality to what you THOUGHT you wanted but which CANNOT fulfil you – but can and does undermine and deny You.

        To pause form persistence-reaction enough to feel the reconnection with a true movement of being is also to witness that You are still here – and in stillness of thought revealed.

        There is way of aligning in the Good – that does not first give focus and power to the ‘evil’.
        Let ‘thanks but no thanks!’ be a disposition of true-aligned purpose, to return to, in any temptation to murder the living as a result of ‘dead thinking’.

        That which Lives (and Is) You is never absent, but the human mind is the development of an ability to be fragmented in imagined and replayed past and future scenarios or AWOL or “absent with out (really) leaving.

        Thou of thyself can do nothing, because you or I are NOT the maker of our self, but have ‘made’ the persona from interactions and definitions with a ‘world outside’ a private sense of forgetfulness and control. Without unconsciousness – how would our surface consciousness even SEEM to cope or make bearable a world of murder?

        A willingness to be reintegrated to our being, is of releasing the denials such that what was hidden is brought to light. Not as a witchhunt or ‘Inquisition’ – but to a true desire for Sanity and Peace as the conditions of a truly creative and truly connecting life. Can true desire BE denied? Or is it merely covered by obfuscations of the wish to persist in the false by seeking only where true answer can never be found?

    • rilme says

      Clever. But extremely poor dietary advice. Remember those idioti who learned that brown rice was wonderful, so they ate nothing else until they died a few months later.

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      • John A says

        You totally misunderstand. I am not advising an organic milk only diet. Simply that even if you are on a tight budget, you should try to buy organic milk as ordinary milk can contain all sorts of unhealthy elements.

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        • You can also buy unpasteurised cheeses. Vit K2 holds a very critical role in our body – ie: the French ‘paradox’ re heart disease and in particular the ‘parking attendant’ for the correct placement of calcium in the body.

    • Raw or unpasteurised milk is a living food.
      Grass fed cattle rather than grain or GM fed cattle!
      The accounts I see of Feds busting raw milk suppliers for any and no reason is the same as with anything else that is too health-supportive for a system built on sickness management.

      Does homogenising generate nanoparticles of fats that permeate gut barriers? I don’t know but only broken-down proteins get through a healthy gut wall.

      In UK past the skimmed milk was dumped as a waste product until moneyed townies wanted to find recreation in an un-smelly ‘countryside’ – so then it was fed to pigs. Latterly it is sold as if a premium health product to an population lulled into brain fog and dementia.

      Milk does not suit everyone and yet what we call milk is ‘dead’ in terms of enzymes that include digestive function.

      Anti-biotic is anti life. Not that there isn’t a place for interventions in ‘runaway’ situations, but the anti-bio or transhuman thinking is dead thinking for a dead technocratic system of sickness management where life itself is the sickness.

  5. Denis O'hAichir says

    The factory farms are just big farmers cannibalising the small farmers, greed is King amongst farmers like most people, of course this is capitalism working its sicking ideology on our food source.

  6. vexarb says

    While Uncle $cams, China plans. From Pepe Escobar, courtesy of today’s Saker Vineyard:

    The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as it’s formally known, is not a “road” or a collection of roads, like the Ancient Silk Road. It’s a strategic axis embodying the organizing Chinese foreign policy concept for the next three decades. And BRI goes beyond Eurasia and Africa, extending all the way to Latin America as well, as Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed in January at the summit between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states.

    Tackling every field from communications strategy to infrastructure, finance, culture, education and geopolitical relations between states, BRI aims to reinforce China’s political capital.

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    • George Cornell says

      The US , after screwing over, politically interfering with, and cheating and stealing from every Latin American country for more than a century, has not a single friend in SA. So why now can’t they believe that China is welcome there.

  7. Savorywill says

    Factory farming is repugnant and evil. The animals raised in these conditions barely have room to move and are so stressed out that they have to be given drugs to avoid literally dying of despair. The irony is that we consume those same drugs, antibiotics and growth hormones, when we eat the products of this barbaric method of food production. As a result, people are dying younger in the US, as a prime example, often from intestinal related cancers. If only we could learn to be kinder, I am sure we would all be happier, which is really what we want.

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  8. Thomas Prentice says

    A wise article full of insight.

    Good New Terms EVERYONE should start using:

    Big Government Capitalism,

    slithering over-civilized suit and tie snakes,

    systemic money farming.

    These are terms ORDINARY PEOPLE — even Trump Deplorables — can understand as opposed to the multisyllabic argle bargle from academia and the pretentious academic/pundit crowd.

  9. In 2015, the American government doled out approximately $22.2 billion dollars in direct and indirect subsidies to the U.S dairy sector; however, US dairy farmers are still operating at a loss. Never fear, to ensure a trade deal with Canada Trump demanded increased access to Canada’s dairy market. Now Canada will be flooded with US dairy products to the detriment of Canadian dairy farmers.

    • summitflyer says

      And not to speak to the hormone laden milk that will cross the border in spite of Health Canada having banned rBGH from being used.How is that for skulduggery .The wool has been pulled over our proverbial eyes .

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  10. George Cornell says

    Trumpolini has just made a deal with Canada to sell them 3.6% of their milk needs. This will get votes in Wisconsin, but hopefully not nearly enough for him to get reelected. But what of the anti-Democratic democrats? No candidate in sight, perhaps put off by the way the last selection was rigged by the DNC vs Sanders and knowing that any candidate will have to ingest figurative excrement to get chosen. There may be more pressing problems in Amarka, and as many have pointed out, Orangeman is a mere symptom. Dairy farming is just one.

    • A clever manipulator does not move openly. They plant the seeds of what they desire from you, but they do not force it.

      You will re-examine your reasoning and think you have made all your own decisions.

      They led you to the path and left you to walk it yourself.

      Not that I support Trump but stop & think for a minute………………?

  11. rilme says

    “a mamma cow mourns a dead calf”
    Vegan is the way. Dairy is disgusting! Think what you do! Milk is for baby mammal of the same species. Cow milk for human is bad. It will kill you slowly. Wean yourself!

    In September a big earthquake struck Hokkaido and the electricity was out for a week. A farmer said the cows were howling in pain, but he couldn’t milk them: Monster!

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    • vexarb says

      Rilme, agreed: Vegan is the way. Supplemented with microbiology for Vitamins — and possibly also by animal tissue culture for higher apes with carnivore tastes. I am told that meat farming adds significantly to global warming.

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    • Eye Witness says

      How will going vegan stop cruelty to dairy cows?

      [a] If EVERYONE stops consuming milk dairy cows will be slaughtered in large numbers by the industrial framers and probably end by going extinct as a species.

      [b] If ONLY SOME stop consuming milk the producers hit first by falling demand will be the small humane producers not the huge industrial farmers. This will have a negative not positive impact on animal wellbeing

      Going vegan does nothing to help the wellbeing of the animals being exploited in these horrible factory farms, it can’t because it basically disengages entirely from the question of farm animal welfare.

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      • vexarb says

        Eye Witness, you have a point: save the dairy cow, the battery hen, the pekinese and the laboratory rat; save all those creations of the Anthropocene — creatures who depend on humankind for their survival. We created them, thus have a responsibility toward them.

        However, as regards point [b] surely if there were less demand for milk products it would be the smaller farms that survived, being ecologically more robust and better adjusted to a niche market?

        • Most demand for milk products is for what we’d call mainstream commercial milk products: milk that everyone drinks either alone or in teas, coffees and other beverages, mainstream cheese products (cheddar, parmesan, etc), butter and other products that most people and businesses need.

          A rise or drop in demand for milk products by itself won’t favour small farms; much actually depends on the nature of the market in which individual small farms operate and this varies from country to country, and even from region to region in the same country.

          Small farms that cater to niche markets are probably more likely to be affected by trends within those niche markets rather than price movements in the wider markets for commercial milk products. If a farm produces organic milk and organic cheeses for its own region, then consumption trends and competition in that region will affect its production, the prices it charges (or may be allowed to charge) and its long-term survival. The competition can include other small farms that produce alternative products like almonds or other plants that can be made into “vegan-based” milk substitutes.

          In a lot of countries, including the United States, the UK and Australia, the real problem facing dairy farmers, especially the small farms run by owner-operators and families, is overproduction of milk, in part caused by a deregulated market for milk. This results in a situation where many small suppliers compete to supply milk to a single large buyer, like a major supermarket chain, and the result is the price gets lower and lower to the point where operating a small farm becomes unprofitable and farmers are driven out. The buyer can insist on lower prices at which it will buy the milk, and then sell the milk to retail customers – that’s us – at whatever prices it likes and reap big profits. In classical economics, this situation is called a monopsony.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopsony

          Funnily, just last week over at The New Kremlin Stooge blog, Mark Chapman and I had a bit of a discussion on the dairy industry in the US compared to the dairy industry in Canada and Australia. The Australian situation is similar to the US situation. In Canada, the government operates a quota system whereby dairy farms can produce a certain amount of product but no more. Prices are more or less stable as a result, This helps to stabilise dairy farmers’ incomes and as a result the farms can earn a reasonable amount that gives them some profit, families can live comfortably, maintain their farms and hand down valuable knowledge, tradition and skills.

          https://qz.com/1385156/the-us-canada-fight-over-nafta-and-dairy-exposes-an-inconvenient-truth-about-free-markets/amp/

        • Dear Vexarb,

          The issue facing the dairy industry in countries like the US and Australia is overproduction in a market environment in which lots of small suppliers (dairy farms) sell milk and milk products to a large buyer (often a giant supermarket chain) who can force the small suppliers to sell their products at low prices. The buyer can then distribute and sell the products to end-users (that is, us) at whatever prices it wants and reap the profits.

          Small suppliers have no control over the price they are forced to sell their products. To cover their costs (which include covering their fixed costs: the land they use, the buildings, machinery and other equipment they use or maybe lease), they produce as much as they can. They end up overproducing which drives down the price of the milk and milk-derived products even more. The buyer can force that price to stay low. Farms are driven to produce even more. The vicious cycle continues, farms become unprofitable to run and they go out of business. They can be bought up by the supermarket itself and run as factory farms.

          Less demand for milk products will not solve the problem and may make it worse. Small farms will go under first in such a situation.

          • Supply management is the answer, just like managing capitalism. It provides stability without direct subsidies. Otherwise cronyism will take over and they will devour themselves, and then turn to government to ask for a bailout. Without controls the system is headed to robber barons and serfdom. For now, Canadian milk is free of growth hormones (BGH) which is a plus for me as products which have BGH make me sick . I suspect that I am not the only one who suffers from this. Small local producers are the answer. From the ones that I have known they take care of their animals. There are always a few bad apples, but they can be weeded out. To big to fail applies to banks as well as industrial farming. Both need to be replaced.

            • Yes Canada uses a quota system to regulate how much dairy farms are allowed to produce. This helps to stabilise prices and supply, provides a stable income for dairy farmers that enables them to live comfortably and to plan for the long term, and moreover helps to preserve dairying traditions and culture. It does mean that Canadians pay higher prices for milk and milk products than Americans and Australians might do where the dairying industry operates in an unregulated or deregulated market environment but I presume most Canadians do not grudge having to pay more for milk if they know the quota management system helps to preserve small family-run farms.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dairy_farming_in_Canada

              The “free market” is not so free for American and Australian dairy farmers.

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