America Is Overproducing So Much Milk Farmers Have Started Burying It

Illustration for article titled America Is Overproducing So Much Milk Farmers Have Started Burying It

Unable to figure out how to offload the small ocean of milk they’ve produced, dairy farmers have landed on an unorthodox solution: They’re burying it by the truckload.


Bloomberg shared this tale of what dairy farmers are doing to deal with the huge surplus of milk they’ve made:

Agri-Mark, a 1,200-dairy cooperative in New England that had $1.1 billion of sales last year, started pouring skim milk last month into holes used for livestock manure. It was the first time in five decades, and farmers so far have unloaded 12 truckloads, or 600,000 pounds (272 metric tons). While having small amounts of milk spoil or go unsold isn’t unusual, Northeast dairies dumped 31 percent more this year through May than the same period of 2014, government data show.

But where is all this unwanted milk coming from in the first place?

Some of it is that we’re just drinking less of it: since the ‘30s, every generation has been drinking a little less milk than the one before it. But while, the decrease has been steady, it hasn’t been overwhelming. The issue is not so much that people are drinking less milk, it’s that dairy farms are making so damn much of it. This year, American milk production hit its highest levels ever—just the same as it had every year for the last five years.

Dairy farms have been steadily ramping up their production like they’re stockpiling for the final days before we fall into some dark, bovine-specific post-apocalyptic wasteland. While at the same time Americans have been shrugging their shoulders and saying, hey, maybe I’ll try some of that almond milk all the kids are so crazy about.

The solution to this one is actually pretty simple: Maybe try producing less milk this year. Or, for god’s sake, at the very least quit escalating the supply for a demand that just doesn’t exist.


Image: polat / Shutterstock


If there's such a surplus, why hasn't the price dropped dramatically?