By Sally Fallon Morell
According to a recently released Cornell University study on the future of the dairy industry, the number of dairy farms will decline 85 percent from 2000 to 2020—from 105,000 farms to only 16,000. Large farms milking 500 cows or more are projected to rise from 2,700 to 3,400 while small farms milking under 100 cows are expected to drop from 84,000 to about 7,000.
We predict the opposite trend, with transition to small farms rather than large and increasing decentralization. With consumers increasingly demanding farm-fresh milk, the number of small farms milking under 100 cows will grow to hundreds of thousands. The recent ban on the entry of diseased cows into the food supply, sparked by the mad cow crisis, will hasten this process as it takes away an important source of revenue for large confinement dairies. Rising costs of feed and replacement cows will make large dairies more and more unsustainable. Take away price supports for grain (which many lawmakers are seriously contemplating) and the confinement system would collapse overnight.
This article appeared in the Winter 2003 edition of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.