Are alternative milks hurting dairy farms?

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SLOCOMB, Ala. (WTVY) -- The move towards plant-based food and drink items are impacting the dairy and meat industries. Nationwide, the dairy industry took a $1.1 billion hit last year.

Cows at Working Cows Dairy have some tough competition from products like veggie burgers, almond and oat milk. This trend is hurting some dairy farmers across the country.

"I think a lot of the people go away from the animal product because they think the animal gets misused," says owner Rinske de Jong. "Because we're animal welfare approved, that's not the case with us."

Working Cows Dairy in Slocomb has seen a bit of a decline in recent years. But owner Rinske de Jong says mainly because getting to their farm takes time.

"Our milk is still a lot better product than the almond milk or the soy milk or whatever because you have all these crazy additives added to it. It's really not good for people. You have the carrageenan and other additives which thicken the milk," said Rinske.

So while others are switching to a more plant-based lifestyle, de Jong argues the benefits of her natural grazing cattle far outweigh any of the cons.

"We do not use any type of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic medicine. We use herbal remedies to treat cows with illness. We use just pure cow manure to fertilize the land," said milk processor Jonny de Jong.

Some doctors like Beth Weever at AllSouth Care however, think these milk substitutes are a healthy alternative, especially for people with a dairy sensitivity. She says they still provide vital nutrients such as Vitamin D and Calcium and can be sugar-free.

But for the de Jong family, organic milk, beef, and cheese products are the only answer to a healthy lifestyle.

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