Milk has always been susceptible to price fluctuations. Farmers are used to putting away money during good times to see themselves through lean times. Recently, however, the cycles have become more violent, with lows falling lower and highs rising not quite so high and the intervals between peaks and valleys shrinking. In 1970, when milk was bringing farmers the same amount that it is today, there were nearly 650,000 dairy farms in the United States. Now there are fewer than one tenth as many, only about 54,000. The largest 1 percent of dairy farms (a figure than includes only enormous factory farms with over 2,000 cows) produced nearly one quarter of the milk we consume. Recently, dairy farmers banded together to propose a radical solution to the dairy crisis. In order to survive, they concluded, American dairy farmers would have to join together to control the supply of milk, an approach along lines similar to the one taken in Canada.

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