Sponsored By
Farm Progress

Dairy industry facts 0

Kent Thiesse 1

June 16, 2014

4 Min Read

For decades in Minnesota, June has been known as Dairy Month. Here are some interesting facts and figures about the Dairy industry.

  • The “June Dairy Month” promotion of dairy products has been in existence since 1939.

  • There are approximately 49,000 dairy farms and nearly 500 milk processing plants in the U.S., with dairy farms in all 50 States and in Puerto Rico.

  • 97% of U.S. dairy farms are family owned farm businesses.

  • There are approximately 9.23 million dairy cows in the U.S., with the average dairy farm in the U.S. having 187 cows.

  • U.S. dairy farms are producing three times more milk today, as compared to 1960, with about half the number of dairy cows, reducing the total resources needed by the dairy industry.

  • The average dairy cow produces approximately 6.5 gallons of milk per day, or about 2,300 gallons of milk per year.

  • It typically takes less than 48 hours for milk to reach grocery shelves from the time it leaves the dairy farm.

  • The value of all milk products sold from U.S. dairy farms is nearly $37.2 billion, and the U.S dairy production and processing industry accounts for over 900,000 jobs in the U.S.

  • 70% of the calcium needs of the U.S. population are supplied by milk and dairy products.

  • A dairy farmer receives about $2.00 per gallon for milk produced, which is approximately 40-45% of the amount paid for milk by consumers at the grocery store.

  • The U.S. dairy industry contributes less than 2% of the total “greenhouse gasses” into the environment, and has reduced it’s carbon footprint by 60% in past six decades.

Following are some interesting facts from the Minnesota Ag Statistics Service and the Midwest Dairy Association regarding Minnesota’s Dairy Industry:

  • In 2012, there were over 3,800 Grade A dairy farms, and approximately 465,000 milk cows, in Minnesota. The number of dairy cows in Minnesota has remained fairly steady in recent years, with a slight increase in total production.

  • In 2012, Minnesota ranked seventh in U.S. dairy production, producing about 8.9 billion pounds of milk, or over 1 million gallons of milk, which represents approximately 5 percent of the total U.S. milk production.

  • The top five dairy producing States in U.S. were California, Wisconsin, New York, Idaho and Pennsylvania, with California producing nearly 40 billion pounds of milk per year, and Wisconsin producing over 25 billion pounds per year.

  • The average production per dairy cow in Minnesota in 2012 was just under 19,000 pounds of milk per cow, which compares to a national average production of approximately 21,000 pounds of milk per cow.

  • Stearns County is the top dairy-producing county in Minnesota, which produces more than twice as much milk per year as any other county in the state. Other top producing counties are Winona, Morrison, Otter Tail, Wabasha and Goodhue.

  • The fastest growing Minnesota county in dairy production is Stevens County in west-central Minnesota, due to the initiation of some larger dairy operations. Stevens County ranked 7th in total number of dairy cows in 2012, with 18,100 cows; however, there were only eight dairy herds listed in the County, resulting in an average herd size of over 2,000 cows per farm.

  • Minnesota dairy industry is the fourth largest agricultural commodity in the state, and dairy production generates the second largest amount of annual cash receipts of all livestock species in the state, trailing only the statewide hog production for total receipts.

  • The Minnesota dairy industry utilizes about 21% of the corn fed to livestock in the state, or approximately 3% of Minnesota’s total annual corn production, and about 15% of the total soybean meal produced in the state, as well as a large amount of the alfalfa produced.

  • Minnesota has 47 dairy processing plants located in the State, and ranks sixth in the U.S. in total cheese production.

  • Minnesota’s dairy farms accounted for approximately $1.77 billion in milk sales in 2013, generating approximately $5.6 billion per year in direct economic impact to the State, with a total economic impact of about $11.5 billion, or about $25,000 per dairy cow.

  • The Minnesota dairy industry supports over 38,000 jobs in Minnesota.

The dairy industry has undergone many changes and economic challenges in the past couple of decades, but remains a very viable industry for many producers, processors, and rural communities. A strong, vibrant, and profitable dairy industry is very important toward building a healthy economic future for Minnesota. 

About the Author(s)

Kent Thiesse 1

Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at [email protected].

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like