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05 March 2024

US dairy cows being sold for slaughter as milk prices drop

Healthy Holstein dairy cows feed at a farm in central Washington. Many of the more than 60,000 dairy farms in the United States have been cutting costs. (REUTERS)

Published
By AP
Hundreds of thousands of America’s dairy cows are being turned into hamburgers because milk prices have dropped so low that farmers can no longer afford to feed the animals.

Dairy farmers say they have little choice but to sell part of their herds for slaughter because they face a perfect storm of destructive economic forces. At home, feed prices are rising and cash-strapped consumers are eating out less often. Abroad, the global recession has cut into demand for butter and cheese exported from the US.

Prices for milk now are about half what it costs farmers to produce the staple, and consumer prices are falling. Unless the market can be bolstered, industry officials project that more than 1.5 million of the nation’s 9.3 million milking cows could be slaughtered as dairy operators look to cut costs.