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Most new milk came from the top seven states

Corey Geiger


March 7, 2022

The 2021 milk production data is out. It tells a story of two dairy worlds.


With more cows and more milk per cow, U.S. milk production climbed by 1.3% to reach a record 226.3 billion pounds in 2021. Most of that new milk came from just a small group of states.


The nation’s top seven dairy states, when measured by total milk production, grew milk output by 1.7% or 6.3 billion pounds. On the flip side, the remaining 43 states slid by 0.44% and fell 369 million pounds.


The “who’s who” of dairy states


California is in first place on the leaderboard as the nation’s top milk production state. In 2021, the Golden State matched the national average and grew milk production by 1.3% to reach 41.9 billion pounds of total milk output. The Badgers in America’s Dairyland led all 50 states in “new milk production” by growing 3.1% to reach 31.7 billion pounds. Last year, Wisconsin produced 953 million pounds of new milk.


California and Wisconsin are followed by these states for total milk production:


3. Idaho, up 1.1%


4. Texas, up 5%


5. New York, up 1.6%


6. Michigan, up 2.3%


7. Minnesota, up 3.7%


Rounding out the top 10 dairy states were Pennsylvania, down 1.6%; New Mexico, down 4.5%, and Washington, down 4.6%.


South Dakota is changing fast


South Dakota has a unique story. While it currently ranks No. 17 for milk production, the dairy farms in the Interstate 29 corridor have been growing milk production at a tremendous clip. In 2021, South Dakota’s milk output climbed 15.5% or by 483 billion pounds.


Only Wisconsin, Texas, and California outpaced South Dakota’s tremendous one-year gain in total milk output. When compared to South Dakota, each of those aforementioned states have much higher milk production bases.


If one would move that state into the top seven dairy states, milk production in that eight-state group climbed 1.8% throughout 2021, and the milk flow in the remaining 42 dairy states fell even further by 1.1%. Indeed, removing South Dakota from the mix shifted milk output from down 0.4% to down 1.1%.


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