Carolyn Betz is an emeritus academic staff from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Her areas of expertise are dairy production systems, climate change and water quality management. She currently works on a project related to regenerative agriculture in the Midwest, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
I’ve been thinking about the need to bring more milk into food pantries for a few years. My interest in this issue started with my job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, where I developed expertise in dairy production systems in the Midwest.
Cows are productive animals, turning grain and forage into milk, meat and manure. Cows are far more productive today than they were in the past, and in fact, make 4 times more milk than they did in the 1940’s. Improved genetics and increased nutritional content of feed explains this improvement in efficiency.
With so much milk, I wondered why the food pantry where I sometimes
volunteer didn’t have enough milk for its patrons. After retiring from UW-Madison in 2019, I decided to delve into this issue to see if I could gain a better understanding of it and how I might help resolve this disconnect.