It’s the most discarded milk in at least 16 years, according to a report on Wednesday.
The reason for the spilled milk is that the glut has cut the price of milk 22 percent since spring, to $16.39 per hundred pounds on Wednesday.
At that price, some farmers can’t afford to truck the milk to market, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the sharp increase in discarded milk.
The glut is the result of a price spike in 2014, which persuaded farmers to bring more dairy cows on line, the Journal reported.
Milk cows have increased by 40,000 this year, and each one is producing 1.4 percent more milk than a year ago, according to the US Dept. of Agriculture.
Price have declined 33 percent since 2014, but the market got especially challenging this spring, said Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation.
Because the surge was global, US producers had difficulty exporting the surplus in timely and cost-efficient ways.
“If you don’t sell it, you smell it,” said Galen, who noted that China, historically a major importer, was particularly missed.
With production a losing proposition, anecdotes of dumping milk into fields, animal feed and manure lagoons became more common than ever.
On Tuesday, the USDA offered support for those prices by committing $20 million for the purchase of milk-intensive cheese — the department’s second market intervention in three months.
Meanwhile, producers continue to press retailers, including McDonald’s and Taco Bell, to create more cheese-focused menu products.