Cows? Who Needs 'em? Stop Drinking Milk

Tina Hinchley ecourages a cow to stand as she goes about her evening milking chores on the family farm she shares with her husband Duane on April 25, 2017 near Cambridge, Wisconsin. President Donald Trump tweeted 'Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this.' Scott Olson/Getty

President Donald Trump's recent comments about protecting U.S. dairy farmers against competition from their Canadian counterparts is supposed to align with his stated interest in putting U.S. interests above all others.

But if he really wants to do that, he'd let the U.S. dairy industry go the way of the buggy whip and die of its own accord.

Our nation should wean itself off cows' milk and invest in agricultural enterprises that are better suited to produce wholesome, accessible food.

Billions of U.S. tax dollars have been wasted in propping up our antiquated dairy industry, which is one of the most deeply entrenched interests in Washington, D.C. Its cadre of lobbyists, bolstered by campaign contributions to politicians, is misusing government resources to keep dairy farmers in business and to market dairy products to consumers who are misled to believe that drinking cows' milk is good for us.

In fact, cows' milk is for baby calves, not humans, and human beings can live well and obtain all the nutrients we need, including calcium, without consuming dairy or other animal products.

The excessive consumption of meat, milk and eggs in the U.S. is making us sick. It is irrational, even unethical, for our government to subsidize and promote these products to unwitting consumers.

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For decades, American school children have had cows' milk foisted on them, along with artery-clogging cheese and other fat-laden animal products. Obesity and heart disease have become commonplace.

We spend billions of dollars to support an industry that costs us billions of dollars in health problems. It's been estimated that we could save 70 percent on health care costs in the U.S. by shifting to a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

Consumers are getting the message, and the marketplace is adjusting. Demand for plant-based milks is expanding, and the consumption of cows' milk is decreasing.

As our society evolves and changes, businesses must also change and adapt. New enterprises are created, and others become obsolete. With the introduction of automobiles, for example, horse and buggy proprietors, and buggy whip manufacturers, had to change.

With growing awareness about the health hazards associated with smoking cigarettes, the tobacco industry has also made adjustments, which include increasing their exports to other countries with less stringent regulations.

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Toxic chemicals that have been prohibited in the U.S. are marketed for export. With U.S. consumers moving away from drinking cows' milk, the dairy industry is pushing for exports to Canada and throughout the world.

Donald Trump campaigned on the idea of changing business as usual and draining the swamp in Washington, D.C. But supporting factory farming is about as swampy as it gets.

The Trump administration should allow the marketplace to function efficiently. It makes no sense to support a failing industry that produces unhealthy commodities and costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year.

Gene Baur is president and co-Founder of Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal protection organization.