‘When will this absurdity stop?’ (Editorial)

(May 15, 2017) The dairy industry in this country is in an alarming decline.
The number of licensed dairies was first published in 1992, USDA counted 131,535.
The USDA counted again in 2016. The agency tallied 40,451.
That’s a decline of 68.2 percent.
Hoard’s Dairyman reports that the biggest statewide declines have occurred in North Dakota (94.4 percent) and Arkansas (93.1 percent).
South Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Alabama, and Nebraska have all lost at least 88 percent of their dairies.
Wisconsin, which traditionally has been recognized, and advertised, as “America’s Dairyland” has lost the most dairies on a total number basis since 1992 — 21,766 operations.
However, Hoard’s reports, by far the slowest regional decline since 1992 has been in the Northeast (55.2 percent). Note, that is the lowest.
That’s hardly worthy of applause.
The percentage rate of decline in U.S. dairy numbers has slowed during the last decade and has averaged 4 percent for the last five years.
However, a 4-percentage rate of decline for 20 years means there would be just 18,480 dairies left in the United States in 2036.
What a dairy farmer gets for his milk is established under a federal marketing order and more often than not, the price he gets for his milk on the farm is less than what it costs him to produce it.
If you are in your senior years and remember growing up on a dairy farm, the milk you drank probably came in a gallon can straight out of the milk house.
The cream was thick on the top of the can and adorned your morning bowl of cereal.
That’s called raw milk and in this age of pasteurization, it’s a no-no in the commercial marketplace.
A precious few dairies in a precious few states have been able to meet licensing requirements, and the demand for raw milk continues to grow.
Fans of raw milk argue that it’s an elixir.
Pasteurization, they claim, “destroys nature’s perfect food” and they will go to great lengths to get it for their families.
That often leads to federal intervention.
In Ontario, Canada, four farmers who run — but do not own — Glencolton Farms are being tried for selling raw milk.
However, the farm and the dairy cattle are owned by Our Farms, Our Foods Co-op, a 200-member cooperative formed for the purpose of boarding personal cows with a responsible dairyman.
“This is overkill,” said a co-op member. “We are peaceful farm owners. The arresting officers put us in the category of domestic terrorists just because we want to continue drinking fresh milk from our cows. When will this absurdity stop?”
The co-op is just one of the many interested stakeholders in changing Canadian policy on raw milk.
What’s important here is that U.S. licensing of raw milk sales could halt — or at least dent — the dairy decline.
Dairy farmers are searching for ways to preserve their farms.
Some are turning to bottling. ... Some are offering on-the-porch early morning home delivery.
In California, there are raw milk dairies, and do you know what? They are getting in the neighborhood of $10 a gallon.
The raw milk ban needs some unbiased and scientific reconsideration.
Many of this nation’s senior citizens grew up on raw milk, their longevity testifying, it seems to us, of the health benefits of the non-pasteurized straight-from-the-cow product.
Should the federal government be able to tell a mother what she can and cannot feed her child?
Under current dicta, the answer is “yes.”