Drink dairy milk and help out our local farming families

Samantha Huerth

Imagine waking up at 4 a.m. to milk hundreds of cows, repeating it at 4 p.m., and starting over the next day, 365 days a year. This is the life of many people in the dairy industry. Today, dairy farmers are making little to no money because of the rising demand for almond milk. I grew up in a small, rural town surrounded by many farms. I had multiple connections to dairy farmers through friends and family, but I never thought about how the declining demand for cow’s milk was affecting their lives, until now.

A dear friend’s family owns a dairy farm. He had never expressed how the declining demand for cow’s milk was affecting his family until one day he said, “Almost all farmers are in debt at least some point during their lives and my family is struggling right now.” It truly opened my eyes. I never considered what dairy farmers must go through when the prices of not only their milk, but also their crops, drop or when people simply stop purchasing their products.

The introduction to almond milk caused a major peak of interest for usual milk shoppers. As people began purchasing almond milk instead of cow’s milk, the demand for cow’s milk dropped greatly. Farmers who were once making a decent living off cow’s milk are now making little to no money at all.

I used to purchase almond milk just because it was the new, popular item in the market. I had seen YouTubers use it in smoothies, saying it was healthier than cow’s milk. I never bothered to do any research; instead, I just began purchasing almond milk. I have no lactose intolerance and have always liked cow’s milk, but I still began purchasing almond milk anyway. I told my friend that I liked almond milk because it tastes sweeter, and he became angry. I didn’t understand why until recently. His family – and many other farming families – are being directly affected by the decrease in demand for cow’s milk.

As college students, it is easy to purchase almond milk simply because it lasts longer or tastes sweeter. Almond milk became a popular purchase for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Those who like the taste of cow’s milk but buy almond milk because it’s the popular thing are hurting the lives of many dairy farmers.

Workers in the dairy industry are also at risk of their income declining. I urge you to think about how much work goes into making cow’s milk. Think about the time, effort and costs that go into the production of the milk you are setting aside for no reason other than because almond milk is today’s hot commodity.