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Dairy Farmers of America get fined $12million for price fixing?

June 18, 2009
Example of Dairy CAFO
Image via Wikipedia

Okay, you may be able to tell by my posts that I have a tendency to root for the underdog, and this issue is no exception.  According to the Organice Consumer’s Association, the Dairy Farmers of America got fined $12million for price fixing, in other words, setting the mass prices so smaller operations couldn’t compete.  Price fixing is illegal, and according to OCA, the Dairy Farmers of America got fined for it.  It seems that the dairy industry has been hit hard as of late:

Dairy Farmers of America, which controls 40% of the market and was fined $12 million last year for price fixing), lack of government oversight and increased dairy imports (which, according to the National Milk Producers Federation, have risen from $80 million to almost $3 billion in the last 10 years).

With imported goods (how scary is that, with products unregulated) and price fixing, the small farmer, or more to my interest, the organic farmer may be pushed out of the market.
Why do organics matter?  Well, do you want milk from the cows crowded in above?  Have you ever visited a dairy farm that keeps its baby cows in igloos, away from their mothers, to feed the cows’ milk to adult humans?  It’s a crazy experience, and I can tell you from a personal visit, listening to the baby cows bawl from their feces-covered igloos as the preschool kids walked away to go get ice cream was a horrific sound.  I have focused on free-range dairy now, feeling as though I have no personal desire to drink milk meant for another animal’s baby that entails separating mother and baby for life.  Yuck.  But, I may be the only one who feels that way; although the other mothers were fairly disgusted.  We all had small children who petted the calves, had to wash the cow dung off their hands, and then listened as the baby cows cried from their small enclosures.

I find cow’s milk kind of gross just as a general rule:  I don’t like drinking the products of another animal’s reproductive tract, especially when it’s creamy and white.  But, I do like yogurt and ice cream, so I feel like a bit of hypocrite.  I try to make sure though that the ice cream and yogurt I buy is not supplied by continually pregnant cows.  I don’t want to participate in abusive practices to drink milk, like taking it from babies, even if they are cows.  For myself, I prefer less chemicals, have no desire for extra estrogens and can’t stand the idea of confining herd animals to 3×3 foot structures.  But, what will the public decide?  When it comes to feeding babies, many people may just choose to feed their own, even if the cows and farmers do suffer.

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