From the Vault: Dairy farmers dump milk in Falmouth streets in protest

Watch archive video
From the Vault: Milk dump floods Falmouth, Ky.
From the Vault: Milk dump floods Falmouth, Ky.
From the Vault: Milk dump floods Falmouth, Ky.
Posted at 5:00 AM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2020-01-13 14:25:03-05

When you think of rioters, dairy farmers may not fit the mental image. But in March 1967, dairy farmers across the nation were making grand statements -- some even resorting to violence -- to protest their low working wage.

While Wisconsin was a hub of action, led by the National Farmers Organization, Greater Cincinnati saw some demonstrations.

And WCPO caught it on film. (Yes, actual film.)

Reporter Marilyn Fields spoke to Frank Michaels, a dairy farmer in South Lebanon, shortly after he dumped 600 gallons of milk.

"This is the only bargaining power we have -- our product," Michaels said.


"Couldn't it have been given to an orphanage, a charity or something?" Fields asked the farmer.

"Well, that won't take the milk from the market," Michaels said. "We have tried to bargain for a price, begging for a price...and we figured we have to take a more drastic action."

Farmers in Falmouth, Kentucky, took things a step further: They dumped gallons of milk into the city streets in one large demonstration.


Read a section of Al Schottelkotte's Spotlight Report from March 21, 1967 below:

"It happened at Falmouth, Ky., 35 miles south of Cincinnati. As recorded by Channel 9 chief photographer Frank Jones, it was one of the wildest dumping parties yet, as Falmouth farmers dumped not only what their cows had produced, but what they'd been able to buy from the store shelves with $200 they'd collected at a meeting the night before."

Elsewhere, the demonstrations turned violent. A script from another Schottelkotte report said tacks were placed in the roadways in Ashland, Ohio to damage trucks of farmers who didn't participate in the strike. Also, a dairy tanker delivering milk to ease the regional shortages of the strike was shot near Darlington, Wisconsin.

The strike itself only lasted three weeks and ended before April. An agreement was reached in Nashville; union farmers were promised discussion of a two-cent per quart raise. The discussion may have happened, but no national wage raise resulted.