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There’s more to the milk production story

Milk production has been essentially flat for the past three years, and 2024 is on track for another year at the same level, if not less. On the surface, that may seem uninspiring. However, there are two underlying developments hidden from the headline that suggest producers are far from flatlining: that a steady amount of milk is being produced by fewer cows and that the milk is richer in components.

In 2021, U.S. producers made 226.2 billion pounds of milk. In 2022, that number rose by less than one-tenth of a percent to 226.4 billion pounds, where it remained in 2023. To be sure, there were seasonal differences and regional shifts, but when blended at the national level, supply was steady.

But “steady” isn’t necessarily compatible with the mindset of the typical growth-oriented U.S. dairy producer. For the years leading up to this plateau, a 1.5% annual increase in production was a reliable rule of thumb.

Ben Laine July 1, 2024



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