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Dairy’s “Top Five” doubled up the other 45


The 2022 milk production data is out. It tells the story of two dairy worlds.


While U.S. milk production crept forward by 0.1%, moving from 226.3 to 226.5 billion pounds, the “Big Five” grew milk output by 1.1% or 1.4 billion pounds and the remaining 45 states slid by minus 1.1% or negative 1.2 billion pounds.

This 1.1% growth among the “Big Five” took place even though the nation’s largest milk producer, California, pulled back on its milk production by 77 million pounds this past year. The other top four dairy states grew milk production by a combined 1.4 billion pounds or 1.13%. Data from those four states included:

  • No 2. Wisconsin, up 180 million pounds or 0.6%

  • No 3. Idaho, up 216 million pounds or 1.3%

  • No. 4 Texas, up 925 million pounds or 5.9%

  • No. 5 New York, up 102 million pounds or 0.8%

The next five flopped

While the remaining 45 states collectively reduced their milk flow by 1.1%, the No. 6 to No. 10 ranked dairy states deserve special mention. Collectively, as a group, the next five saw milk flow slide by nearly triple the national average at 2.9%. Here’s a more detailed look at this group:

  • No 6. Michigan, down 212 million pounds or 1.8%

  • No 7. Minnesota, down 71 million pounds or 0.7%

  • No 8. Pennsylvania, down 165 million pounds or 1.6%

  • No 9. New Mexico, down 656 million pounds or 8.4%

  • No. 10. Washington, down 265 million pounds or 2.9%

The South Dakota effect

The spread between the “Big Five” and the remaining 45 would be even more substantial if one extracted South Dakota. Located in the heart of the I-19 corridor, South Dakota is quickly becoming the new Texas.


Over the past decade, South Dakota more than doubled its milk output from 2 billion to 4.2 billion pounds of milk. At the start of that ascent, South Dakota ranked No. 21 among all dairy states. By the end of 2022, it had moved to No. 16. The Mount Rushmore State ranked No. 2 in new milk this past year at 559 million pounds. That was double Iowa’s third ranked growth in new milk. Most of Iowa’s 232 million pounds of new milk came from its western region near I-29.


Here's the final analysis on the South Dakota impact — move the Mount Rushmore State into the Big Five and milk production in that group would have been up 1.5%. As for the remaining 44 states, that group would have been down a rather significant 1.7%.


Corey Geiger

March 6, 2023



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