There's way too much cheese in America, so it's logical there's also too much of the milk used to make it. Now US dairy farmers are remedying this by dumping their excess, to the tune of more than 43 million gallons in just the first eight months of this year—enough to fill 66 Olympic-size pools, the Wall Street Journal reports. Per the USDA, this outpouring—which the Journal notes is the biggest amount of milk waste in 16 years—is taking place in fields and manure lagoons, as well as via milk that goes MIA along truck routes or is "disappeared" at factories. "Everyone has dumped milk, from Minnesota to New England," says the head of the Michigan Milk Producers Association. This surplus came about when producers started churning out extra milk two years ago for a shortage, with some farms adding staff and gear to handle the overage.
And with milk prices dropping 22% since the spring, some farmers can't afford the transportation costs to get the milk to store shelves, the New York Post notes. The industry has been trying to get creative in dealing with the glut so it can minimize waste: A marketing firm used by the country's 43,000 dairy farmers is working with about a dozen "dairy partners" to incorporate more milk into restaurant menus, including replacing liquid margarine with real butter in McDonald's menu items and even creating a brand-new Taco Bell edible called the Quesalupa that's smothered in cheese. But the excess remains an ongoing problem that has also been affected by a downturn in milk exports. "If you don't sell it, you smell it," a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation tells the Post. (How about a cold glass of pea milk instead?)