The good news is that Americans are eating more organic food than ever before. In 2014, we spent about $35 billion on organic groceries, and about one in seven dollars spent on organic goods is used to purchase organic dairy, according to the USDA. That number has almost doubled over the past 10 years. The (hopefully temporary) bad news is that organic farmers can’t keep up with demand, which is leading to a nationwide shortage of organic milk, according to Bloomberg.
It’s not just individual customers who are lapping up all of the organic milk: McDonald’s and Wal-Mart now sell organic dairy. The USDA has reported that even in Wisconsin, the dairy farm capital of America, farmers are posting notices warning of a milk shortage. According to Gallup, as of this summer, 45 percent of Americans seek out American foods, and dairy farmers are saying that number will only continue to climb. The USDA data shows that sales of organic milk jumped almost 10 percent from the beginning to the end of 2014, while consumption of regular milk is down almost four percent.
A shortage means that farmers will have to increase their supply, something that’s tough to do. According to USDA guidelines, organic cows must graze in an organic pasture, and cannot be treated with hormones to stimulate growth or milk production. In the meantime, retail prices for organic milk have climbed as high as $3.89 per half-gallon, with regular milk almost stagnant at half the price.