The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released data that indicated dairy farmers across the country dumped more than 43 million gallons of excess milk into manure lagoons, fields, and animal feed in the first eight months of 2016. This is the largest overproduction of milk recorded in the last 16 years. Wall Street Journal reports that milk producers are scrambling to find ways to sell the oversupply through dairy checkoff programs such as Dairy Management Inc. which spent $30 million last year to push excess dairy products onto consumers. Strategies include lobbying to get more milk on school lunch menus—despite increasing demands at schools for plant-based alternatives—and partnering with fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, and Taco Bell to create dairy-laden food items that effectively use up the excess—one example being the cheese-laden “Quesalupa” developed by Taco Bell in February. Similarly, the overproduction of cheese prompted the USDA to issue a $20 million bailout to dairy farmers in August and a $7 billion bailout to animal feed producers this month. Meat producers are on a similar track to overproduction, with the nation’s pig and hog herd currently estimated at 70 million individuals, which greatly outpaces the current demand for pork products.
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