The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

"White oil"
– milk prices soar

May 17, 2004

The price of milk has been going up rapidly. It's been above $3 a gallon in many cities, and is even $4 in some parts of the country.

All kinds of reasons are trotted out by the dairy industry. They say demand is outstripping supply; or, dairy farmers sent too many cattle to be slaughtered; or, there was too much rain that made the feed wet and the cows didn't eat as much!

It's this argument that's all wet! Milk is another commodity produced in the capitalist manner – just like oil. Only 20 companies handle half of all the milk sold in the U.S. One of the biggest, Dean Foods, had profit of 356 million dollars last year.

Even though something like wet feed might affect a few traditional farmers with small herds, today's modern dairy factories, with 20,000 cows or more, use bulk prepared feed. With all the resources of modern veterinary science, they maintain maximum milk production with the minimum number of cows. Just like oil companies, they can decide to milk more cows – or to milk fewer, in quantities large enough to swing prices.

So yes, the price of milk has soared, but it's simply another large industry that's milking us.