You are here: home   Issues   Billboard corporations use money and influence to override your vote   Small dairies raise big questions
Topic: Mining & Agriculture     Department: Letters

Small dairies raise big questions

Document Actions

In the article "Milk and Water Don't Mix" by Stephanie Paige Ogburn (HCN, 11/28/11), the dairy industry was made out to be the bad guy, which it is in its present form as a huge, polluting concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO. But a combination of trends has created a monster from what used to be small family dairies, with less than 200 cows on pasture brought in to be milked twice a day.

The dairy industry, as well as the meatpacking industry, has been subjected to market and regulatory pressures that have forced both these industries to upsize in order to be profitable and in compliance. Startup costs alone prevent many small operators from entering the business, while costly new regulations, often related to pollution, force small producers out of business.

Yes, both these industries need to be regulated to ensure healthy, safe products while reducing the undesirable side effects of pollution. But if we want an alternative to CAFO dairies, articles like "Milk and Water Don't Mix" beg answers to several questions:

As consumers, are we willing to accept more risk for a less-regulated product or, as taxpayers, are we willing to subsidize the startup costs for small pasture-based dairies?

As consumers, are we willing to pay more for dairy products from small pasture based dairies?

As neighbors living near a small pasture-based dairy, will we be tolerant of the dairy-associated odors of manure and silage and the presence of more flies?

Will we fight to preserve farmland for pastures for dairy cows close to urban/suburban areas, not only for its value for food production, but because it also prevents development and preserves open space?

Michelle Schmidtke, DVM
Whidbey Island, Washington

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Rancher vs BLM: a 20-year standoff ends with tense roundup |
  2. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  3. After the standoff, what's next for Bundy and BLM? |
  4. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  5. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  1. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  2. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  3. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  4. Will the Colorado River reach the Gulf of California once more? | Photographs of last month's historic water pulses....
  5. Locals resist a Bakkenization of the Beartooths | South-central Montanans oppose new drilling, forew...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone