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Why Cheap Milk Is Bad for Cows


friesian-holsteinConsider, for just a moment, where your milk comes from. Chances are, some of it is from Johnson Dairy—specifically, its 9,000-cow herd in northern Colorado.

It was once one of the largest milk operations in the nation, but its owners are struggling economically, and it doesn’t help that milk prices everywhere are going down. Cheap milk is good for consumers, but bad for dairies. And what’s bad for dairies is apparently bad for cows.


Economics in the milk industry can be brutally simple: To get more money for milk, dairies can join forces to limit production. And that means taking cows out of production, writes the Northern Colorado Business Report. To put it more bluntly, the cows must die.

Johnson Dairy, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings all year, has received permission from the court to sell a herd for slaughter through Cooperatives Working Together, a program of the National Milk Producers Federation, which has already worked to remove more than 4.8 billion pounds of milk-production capacity from the dairy industry in a cow “retirement” program. NPR, meanwhile, reports that independent farmers feel pressured by “milk cartel” politics.

As for Johnson Dairy, it recently considered an elaborate and controversial expansion into Eaton, but those plans were nixed, reports The Greeley Tribune.

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