The United States Senate signed a budget agreement last week to grant $1 billion to the dairy and livestock industries. The funds will be used toward programs that will help the dairy industry recover from a long-standing slump in dairy prices—which are affected by a number of factors, including consumer habits. Americans are increasingly purchasing plant-based alternatives instead of animal-based milk, but the dairy industry has failed to adjust to the shift. In the first eight months of 2016, dairy farmers nationwide purged 43 million gallons of excess milk into manure lagoons, fields, and animal feed—with the surplus hitting an all-time high of 78 million gallons last year. Dairy sales have consistently declined for several years, which has led to a number of companies restrategizing their brands to stay competitive with vegan alternatives. Danone—which was known for its yogurt brands—recently completed the acquisition of WhiteWave Foods (parent company of plant-based brands Silk, Vega, Alpro, and So Delicious), while Elmhurst (New York City’s last remaining dairy processor) abandoned the dairy business and now exclusively produces milks made from peanuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, and oats.
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