Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk | Farm Journal’s MILK Business
If you click the link above it will take you to a fascinating article at the Farm Journal (re-printed from Bloomberg News) about what’s going on in school food service with the focus on milk. Unlike the usual two or three paragraph news blurb that tells you pretty much nothing, this article goes into the situation in some depth and is pretty well written, and debunks a lot of the hype being pushed by various marketing boards.
It still puzzles some of my readers here that someone with his roots in dairy farming like me can be so critical of the dairy industry, but that same dairy industry stopped giving a damn about the health and well being of you and your family a long, long time ago. What it has focused on exclusively for decades now is trying to sell you milk and milk products any way it can. It has manipulated data, used misleading statistics, cherry picked information, ignored significant health issues, pressured retailers and school systems, and generally used every marketing trick imaginable to try to convince you that milk is good for you when there is significant evidence that indicates it isn’t.
The article isn’t just about milk, of course. It goes into details about the Obama era school lunch rules, the attempts to undermine them, shows how the big processed food manufacturers try to influence school lunch programs, and how so-called “experts” are used to try to influence things. One “volunteer adjunct professor”, whatever the hell that is, claimed that if a 16 year old girl didn’t drink milk and “doesn’t get enough [calcium] by the time she’s 30 her bones start to turn to dust”.
If it sounds like the dairy industry is growing increasingly desperate to sell you milk, that’s because it is. Right now the US alone has about 1.4 billion pounds of excess cheese in storage. That is not a typo. 1.4 billion pounds. Every year milk production goes up while at the same time demand is trending down. The demand for liquid drinking milk has been declining for decades now, and even cheese consumption has been flat or even declining a bit. In a rational world what happens when you have too much of a product is that you stop making so much of it. But one thing I learned long ago is that rationality seems to be in short supply.
Go take a look at the article if you have some time. It makes for fascinating reading and will give you an idea of how the food industry in this country is being manipulated.
15 thoughts on “Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk | Farm Journal’s MILK Business”
These industry associations are always suspect when they open their mouths to talk.
Aaron Carroll calls the industry “Big Milk” when he talks about it. It’s a big tongue and cheek, but it’s also NOT.
Hmph, for some reason WordPress occasionally eats my replies.. Oh, well, let’s try again…
“Big Milk” is an appropriate term. Dairy wields an extraordinary amount of influence in politics. Various milk marketing organizations, food processors and dairy processors pump tens of millions of dollars in bribes — ahem, excuse me, “campaign contributions”, slip of the tongue there, into the pockets of politicians. The result here in Wisconsin is that the situation has actually been getting worse than better. Thousands of wells are contaminated. In some counties half or more of the private water wells are contaminated by runoff from farms. A news story that just broke this past week added another three counties to the list that had 50% or more of the wells in the counties contaminated by runoff from farms. Hopefully this will get enough voters mad at the politicians down there in Madison that they’ll actually start to notice and do something. Not going to hold my breath waiting, though.
I’m not sure that those most deeply effected by these issue would even vote differently. Human behavior is so odd. We would rather adapt our own beliefs without evidence rather than to face reality, I doubt that even reality would change behavior or votes.
That’s certainly true. People are just odd sometimes. Even when we know we need to do something we try to resist. That’s certainly true with the dairy business. We know that there is way, way too much milk, but dairy farms keep expanding, scientists keep breeding improved cows that produce even more, because we’re locked into this mindset where more of something equals better for some reason.
Well, we’ll see. The situation has been so bad for so long now that perhaps there will finally be some kind of incentive to change the way the system works. I’ve been seeing editorials in the ag press, some of them from farmers themselves, calling for some kind of quota system to try to halt this insane over production that’s wrecking the business.
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Milk…It does a body big! I was looking at osteoporosis in aging women and it appeared the number one remedy is heavy lifting. If you understand the physiology of bone density and rebuilding it makes perfect sense. Personally I gave up milk years ago, but I do think it has its place in a hard working, non sedentary farm life. We just sit around too much. I just finished my first month of zero meat diet. I lost 15 pounds. I’m at my fightin weight again. I have a feeling the milk and beef industries have secret meetings. Hey Primo!! Ven conmigo!!
You’re right about osteoporosis, of course. For years the dairy industry has been claiming that eating dairy products is important for older women for bone health, but there is actually little or no data to back that claim. In fact, there have been some studies that link dairy consumption with an increase in some types of fractures in some populations. Exercise does indeed help. That is a proven fact. Dairy products? Not really. A lot of us have slipped into a sedentary lifestyle for a variety of reasons, and that’s harming our health in all sorts of ways; high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, etc.
Good luck with the no meat diet! I went mostly vegetarian some years ago, but damn, it’s hard here in Wisconsin, and I fear I rather quickly started to slip up. I do eat a lot less meat than I used to, at least.
Secret meetings? Darn right they do! They’ve been caught on multiple occasions engaging in shady behavior. The big meat packing companies and dairy processors have been caught several times engaging in things like price fixing, fiddling with the supply of product, etc. in order to prop up or increase prices.
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So far the no meat diet isn’t bad at all. I didn’t normally eat that much anyway except the occasional gluttony. It just hadn’t been setting well with me for quite some time and making the switch may keep me a little healthier in my upcoming oldening.
I’ve been looking at studies how our evolution is not keeping up with the changes in the world. Meat may be one of those things we just don’t need in this lifestyle we’ve created. Not much activity even when we make the effort, it’s just a shadow compared to 500 years ago which is nothing in evolutionary time.
Our lack of physical activity is very much becoming a serious health problem. You’re right about the evolution thing. How we live is changing far, far faster than our physical bodies can adapt. The other day I ran across a video on Youtube showing a movie someone had made back in 1911. They’d mounted a movie camera to the front of a streetcar and ran it through the city. Everyone, and I mean everyone was walking. Sure, there were some horse carts and streetcars and that, but everyone else was hoofing it. In the past hundred years or so we’ve gone from the primary means of getting from one place to another being walking, to getting into a car or taxi or Uber or whatever to go just a couple of blocks.
Farming was always an intensely physical activity and my weight was always hovering around 200 lbs. But then I got into computers, programming, electronics, etc. and I started packing on weight. By the time I got out of that nonsense I was pushing 240. If I hadn’t got out of that line of work I’d probably be dead from a heart attack by now.
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No where is that more evident than at Copper Canyon Mexico where the Tarahumara live in the mountains. When they move into town they become morbidly obese really quickly. If you have Netflix check out ‘the history of us’ episode 2. It’s quite good.
Hmm. WP ate my comment too. Hey if you have Netflix (it may be on you tube) check out ‘The history of us’ and how morbid obesity quickly effects the Tarahumara people if northern Mexico when they move into a city. It’s sums up pretty well what we’re up against.
I’ll have to check that out. I know our “western” lifestyle has badly hurt a lot of indigenous people; Native Americans, Hawaiians, the Inuit, etc. The high sugar, salt and fat content of the diet plus the sedentary lifestyle has caused skyrocketing incidences of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. among these people. A friend of mine is Chippewa and he tells me it’s almost literally an epidemic.
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All agribusiness cares about is maintaining its quotas and government subsidies. There was a time when surplus milk, cream and butter were dumped in rivers and oceans. Maybe they’ll get subsidies for using milk in fracking…
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The subsidies are a major problem. The government has been manipulating the milk market through subsidies, surplus buys, milk marketing orders and tax breaks since the early part of the 20th century. There really is no such thing as a “free market” when it comes to milk or a lot of other agricultural products.
I used to work in a parlor back in the 80s with 400 cows and there were days we’d dump all the milk in the river. Supply has been manipulated long before I knew what I was doing. They were getting paid to dump it. Meanwhile…in the Sudan and Burundi… Tragic really.
I’ve seen similar situations with milk being dumped as well and it’s going on right now. I don’t remember the exact numbers now but millions of pounds of milk were simply dumped last year because the processors couldn’t deal with it. Most of the processors around here are running at full capacity already and are reluctant to build new facilities because there’s no market for the stuff. And meanwhile we have people starving in many parts of the world. — sigh…
I remember the same thing happening on a regular basis going back decades. We’ve been going through this boom-bust cycle for almost as long as there has been a dairy industry. Back in the late 60s or early 70s there was an attempt to organize dairy farmers into an organization called the NFO, the National Farmers Organization. The idea was that farmers would sort of unionize and voluntarily restrict production and negotiate better prices with the big processors. That didn’t work very well. Farmers like to think they’re independent and resist the idea of anyone telling them how to run their businesses.
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