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Give CAFO Dairies a Run for Their Money—Plant Oats and Beans for Plant-Based Milk!

An eager reader says, hey, Robb and Rock Arnold! Why sell your family’s farm land to a corporate factory dairy and have to rewrite your dead dad’s view on  the sacredness of land when you could respect your dad, keep your land, and grow crops that would get you in on the future of dairy, plant-based milk?

Plant-based milks, a multibillion-dollar global market, aren’t just good for the lactose intolerant: They’re also better for the climate. Dairy cows belch a lot of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide; they contribute at least 7 percent of US methane output, the equivalent emissions of 10 million cars. Cattle need a lot of room to graze, too: Plant-based milks use about a tenth as much land to produce the same quantity of milk. And it takes almost a thousand gallons of water to manufacture a gallon of dairy milk—four times the water cost of alt-milk from oats or soy [Julia Métraux, “Plant Milk Is Better for Us and the Climate. So Why Do We Subsidize Dairy?Mother Jones, Nov/Dec 2023].

More milk from fewer inputs with less pollution—sounds like a great business opportunity to me! Instead of glutting the market with a product that results in lots of poop and greenhouse gases (not to mention makes our man lactose-intolerant friends feel ooky), why not direct our land use, not to mention crop subsidies, economic development handouts, and other socialist interventions in the far-from-free market, in cleaner, healthier plant milk?

Robb! Rock! Think outside South Dakota’s CAFO box! Help lead our state to a new market niche—plant some oats and make some milk!


  1. Edwin Arndt 2023-10-18 09:29

    Cows in the maga dairies do not graze. The feed is hauled to them.
    And all milk is plant based.

  2. e platypus onion 2023-10-18 09:56

    There are 124 drugs approved for use in dairy cattle. Maybe dairy replacement heifers and milk should be sold by pharmacies.

  3. Edwin Arndt 2023-10-18 10:19

    Plant based milks retail at roughly twice the price
    of traditional dairy milk. (page 8 of “multibillion
    dollar global market”) This would be a steep hill
    to climb. But we have a somewhat free market
    economy so see how it plays out.

  4. P. Aitch 2023-10-18 10:35

    C’mon, Edwin. You’re asserting that cow milk is plant based?
    – No, dairy milk is not plant-based. Dairy milk is derived from animals, usually cows. Plant-based milk alternatives are made from plants such as soybeans, almonds, rice, oats, or coconuts.
    Is a blood rare, garlic and rosemary rubbed, USDA PRIME eight-bone, standing rib roast plant based because the “beaves” eat grass and grain?

  5. Edwin Arndt 2023-10-18 11:01

    P., you are smarter than that. Cows eat plants. Without plants
    cows would die, as would most humans. Now eskimos eat mostly
    meat, but in one way or another their diet may also be plant based.
    I believe their diet is based on phytoplankton and zooplankton.
    A curious guy like you could really dig into this.
    I’s pretty safe to say that the diet of the entire planet is plant based.

  6. Edwin Arndt 2023-10-18 11:21


  7. All Mammal 2023-10-18 11:53

    The reason they don’t produce anything with their land is because farming requires work.

    The CAFO dairy is going to follow the path of least resistance as well. That way they can pass on the lowest of quality (pardon my French) cyst-filled hormone sht water to the consumer for cheap. Because they’re cheap. Let the land pay the cost, oh, and the taxpayer.

  8. sx123 2023-10-18 12:07

    I’m not a fan of oat milk, but love oats. Almond milk works for some things. But please don’t take away my ice cream and i prefer to cook with real butter and actual milk, and I love real cheese.

    I have nothing against plant based ‘milk’, but no way does it pack the nutrient punch that real dairy does. Complete proteins.

  9. P. Aitch 2023-10-18 12:33

    Edwin@Edwin: Very innovative of you to devise your own interpretation of “plant based” contrary to the accepted definition.
    Keep that “german” goin’ on Amigo. You’re a specialized fossil of rural recalcitrance.

  10. Edwin Arndt 2023-10-18 13:10

    P., I would prefer Herr to amigo. I am willing to defend my definitions
    if need be.

  11. All Mammal 2023-10-18 13:11

    *farming also requires love in addition to hard work. CAFOs lack love, therefore their product isn’t doing the consumers any favors with their cheap produce. I am sure the ladies and gentlemen who labor at corporate farms do love their charges, for the most part, when they have the time and energy.
    Science may not connect health declines with loveless sustenance. I do.

  12. sx123 2023-10-18 13:29

    From the article: “Plant-based milks use about a tenth as much land to produce the same quantity of milk”. No way is the last part true: “same quality”. No way.

    And who cares about how much land dairy cattle use? There’s nothing but empty space on the prairies. Cattle can graze hills that cannot be farmed. Of course, that’s the idealistic picture. Many (most?) dairy cattle in large operations don’t graze wide open prairies. They get hay and silage.

  13. John 2023-10-18 13:29

    Edwin doesn’t understand science. Edwin also doesn’t understand exponential transformative change.
    In New York City’s Easter Parade in 1900 there was one car and thousands of horses with riders, dragging carriages, etc.
    13 years later a photo of the parade showed 1 horse, and hundreds perhaps over a thousand cars and trucks.

    Reflect on how fast cell phone technology obliterated wall / desk phones. The exponential rates of transformative change are accelerating.

    Initially, the cost of new, better ways to accomplish something are steep – but those cost curves also exponentially fall. That is why solar is the least expensive energy. Solar is cheaper to produce and operate than it costs to merely operate a fossil fuel plant.

    The future of milk is via precision fermentation. The cow’s four-chamber stomach occurs in fermenting vats. Since milk is about 88% water its easy to replicate using precision fermentation. The US dairy industry is a dead cow mooing.

    Our rivers, streams, lakes, wallets, and human health will be better off.

  14. Ben Cerwinske 2023-10-18 13:59

    I love ice cream too, but some of the non-dairy ice creams I’ve had (Ben and Jerry’s and Planet Oat) were pretty good. As good as dairy? No, but good enough that it would be an easy trade for a more sustainable option.

  15. Edwin Arndt 2023-10-18 14:02

    Please tell all those uninformed bankers that are financing these large
    dairies. Apparently they have not done their due diligence, otherwise they
    would know they are heading for disaster.

    I still have a phone on my desk. I’d call you but my wife is
    using it right now.
    Humans have been milking cows for thousands of years, that won’t
    change over night.

  16. P. Aitch 2023-10-18 15:37

    The market is strong. The odor is stronger. It’s your state. Do you care about the pollution to your Sioux river?
    Your wild wind embraces bad decisions.
    If it was named The German River, you’d give a damn.

    The Global Mozzarella Cheese Market was valued at US $36.7 BN in 2022, and is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 6.46%, in terms of revenue, over the forecast period (2023-2030), to reach US $56.9 Bn by 2030.

  17. sx123 2023-10-18 17:18

    I’ve read that rice (yes rice!) fields emit a massive 10-15% of methane emissions and never hear anyone crying about that.

  18. Aaron 2023-10-18 18:57

    Currently the straw is the more valuable part of an oats crop. Crop farmers would find corn silage and alfalfa for a dairy to be more profitable

  19. e platypus onion 2023-10-18 19:22

    Farmers could plant oats( or rye)and harvest the grain and the straw and then plant a second crop like soybeans Rye makes decent silage.

  20. Todd Epp 2023-10-18 19:37

    Rye also makes good whisky.

  21. LCJ 2023-10-18 20:03

    Ok, quick science lesson here.
    Milk comes from mammals, not plants.
    Plant byproducts are squeezed into oils like nuts etc if you want to drink them
    I do not want to drink nut juice, but if that is what you’re all about I won’t judge you.

  22. DaveFN 2023-10-18 21:02

    Edwin Arndt

    “All milk is plant based.”

    Organic chemistry goes yet further: all milk and life itself is carbon based. Nitrogen, oxygen and other ancillary elements are merely along for the ride when it comes to the molecules which comprise life as we know it. Carbon has unique properties which enable it to concatenate into long and stable chains, as well as enable it to form rings. No other element is able to do this; silicon, near neighbor of carbon on the periodic table, comes in as a close second but is poorly behaved relative to carbon.

    If I presume to follow Cory’s post, however, the devil’s in the details of the production of the end result and not in the mere origin of the final product. There are multiple methods by which to simulate both meat and milk. How many bells and whistles it takes as well as the cost in the largest sense of those bells and whistles is the issue. Every step has a make-up add-ons to the price of the end product. Not to mention the initial cost of raw materials, facilities, supply chains, and economies of scale which latter take time and resources to develop–if they materialize at all. Which is why very few discoveries in research labs make it to market.

  23. DaveFN 2023-10-18 21:10


    I don’t know in what sense you are using the term “complete protein” when you indicate non-dairy milk doesn’t ” pack a punch.”

    Using strict terminology of “complete protein” which is a term borrowed from science, a complete protein is in which a contains the essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own.

    Plant milks and other simulations are in this regard fully capable of being in every way equivalent to dairy milk.

  24. grudznick 2023-10-18 22:07

    Mr. Epp, would you agree that these sort of debates are what dilutes the mind of brilliant fellows, or formerly brilliant fellows, like our own Mr. H and numbs it down having to read all this blather into a partisan hack approach at gossip? That’s what grudznick thinks your radio show would say. I mean, back when you were a straight lawyer from Harrisburg.

  25. DaveFN 2023-10-18 22:29


    What “dilutes the mind of [otherwise] brilliant fellows” is a lack of formal education.

    Anything less is flying by one’s pants and shooting one’s mouth off.

  26. John 2023-10-18 22:49

    Tony Seba educates Edwin, Tiny Johnson, and their skeptical hardcore republicans wearing republican costumes, about phase change disruptions, S-curves, exponential change, gravity, and technological transformation in 32 fast minutes.

    Cliff Notes: don’t invest in AT&T, Sears, Horse Carriage Enterprises, or an American dairy. (Following the banksters is a quick path to bankruptcy.)

  27. P. Aitch 2023-10-19 03:02

    DaveFU – What’s your “formal education”, then? Be forthright and explicit or are you just “shooting your mouth off”? Hmmmm …. ?

  28. e platypus onion 2023-10-19 08:46

    Rye makes several outstanding breads, including Pumpernickel. Yummy!

  29. Richard Schriever 2023-10-19 11:28

    Edwin, even the Amish have (granted on-the-sly) have adapted cellular tech.

  30. Lucy M 2023-10-20 02:48

    Some of us do not have an ag background. Would someone who knows more than I do please translate CAFO? It will be appreciated.

  31. jerry 2023-10-20 04:34

    Concentrated animal feeding operation

  32. ABC 2023-10-20 08:26

    Plant based milks makes our environment cleaner, our bodies healthier, and our bank accounts richer!

    Plant based milks will feed and create millionaires and billionaires, maybe even trillionaires!

    Get a piece of the action!

    Be a plant based millionaire!

  33. All Mammal 2023-10-20 08:47

    e platypus onion- I just came off a pumpernickel bout with creamed chipped beef. I was obsessed for awhile there. Now I’m on that Jewish Rye kick. Seeded.

  34. John 2023-10-20 10:14

    Apparently 12% eat one-half of US beef consumption. Most are men. Most are boomers.
    It is amazing that the US beef herd is the same size it was in 1980 . . . while the US population almost doubled. Those land grant colleges are doing a landmark job, eh? If I were a stock groaner . . . I’d find another line of work.
    The litany of hazards of beef consumption forces intelligent consumers to consume protein elsewhere.
    SD “investing” in beef production is a fools errand. SD ought be investing in precision fermentation of proteins (and milk).

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