Midwest Dairy Association

Dairy Production Statistics

The dairy industry is a vital part of our nation’s food system. Dairy is essential to the health of communities across the country because it contributes jobs, income and economic vitality.

  • Dairy farms support rural communities in all 50 states.
  • There are 49,331 dairy farms in the United States.
  • An economic analysis of the direct and indirect economic impact (also known as the multiplier effect) of U.S. dairy (farming through processing) was estimated to be $140 billion in economic output and $29 billion in household earnings.
  • Dairies create a ripple effect on the agricultural economy and the economic well-being of rural America. When a dairy farmer sells a dollar of milk, it generates economic activity of $3, and every $1 million of U.S. milk sales generates 17 jobs.

Where milk goes, jobs follow. From farm to processor to distribution and retail, dairy creates jobs that support the economic well-being of rural America.

  • Dairy farms sustain rural America. Even under the nation’s current economic challenges, dairy farmers and companies are a lifeline to 900,000 jobs in the United States.
  • Dairy processing alone provides over 130,000 jobs in the U.S.
  • Around 178,000 retail outlets in the U.S. sell dairy foods.

Dairy is local. Dairy farm families are business owners. Every glass of milk and each dairy product produced by these family businesses brings vitality to local and state economies.

Click a state to see the dairy production statistics in that area.

Arkansas

  • In the state of Arkansas, there are 110 licensed dairy herds.
  • Arkansas dairy farms produce 15 million gallons of milk.
  • Arkansas farms generate $24 million in milk sales annually.
  • Arkansas is the 43rd largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In Arkansas, the average dairy cow produces 5.1 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 1,862 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year.
  • Arkansas has 3 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

Iowa

  • In the state of Iowa, there are 1,488 licensed dairy herds.
  • Iowa dairy farms produce 505 million gallons of milk.
  • Iowa farms generate $718 million in milk sales annually.
  • Iowa is the 12th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In Iowa, the average dairy cow produces more than 2,336 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year.
  • Iowa has 36 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

Minnesota

  • In the state of Minnesota, there are 3,952 licensed dairy herds.
  • Minnesota dairy farms produce 1,054 million gallons of milk.
  • Minnesota farms generate $1.8 billion in milk sales annually.
  • Dairy products are the 4th largest agricultural commodity in Minnesota.
  • Minnesota is the 7th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • Minnesota has 39 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

Illinois

  • In the state of Illinois, there are 760 licensed dairy herds.
  • Illinois dairy farms produce 225 million gallons of milk.
  • Illinois farms generate more than $376 million in milk sales annually.
  • Illinois is the 21st largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In Illinois, the average dairy cow produces more than 6 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 2,251 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year.
  • Illinois has 36 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

Missouri

  • In the state of Missouri, there are 1,312 licensed dairy herds.
  • Missouri dairy farms produce 165 million gallons of milk.
  • Missouri farms generate $265 million in milk sales annually.
  • Missouri is the 25th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In Missouri, the average dairy cow produces 5.7 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 2,081 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year.
  • Missouri has 15 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

South Dakota

  • In the state of South Dakota, there are 290 licensed dairy herds.
  • South Dakota dairy farms produce 229 million gallons of milk.
  • South Dakota farms generate $388 million in milk sales annually.
  • South Dakota is the 20th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In South Dakota, the average dairy cow produces 7 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 2,487 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year.
  • South Dakota has 9 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • The average person consumes 6 pounds of cheese a year, and South Dakota produces enough of this dairy food for 38 million people.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

North Dakota

  • In the state of North Dakota, there are 114 licensed dairy herds.
  • North Dakota dairy farms produce 40 million gallons of milk.
  • North Dakota farms generate $66 million in milk sales annually.
  • North Dakota is the 35th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In North Dakota, the average dairy cow produces 6 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 2,130 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year.
  • North Dakota has 2 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

Nebraska

  • In the state of Nebraska, there are 205 licensed dairy herds.
  • Nebraska dairy farms produce 138 million gallons of milk.
  • Nebraska farms generate $248 million in milk sales annually.
  • Nebraska is the 27th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In Nebraska, the average dairy cow produces 7 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 2,556 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year. 
  • Nebraska has 8 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

Kansas

  • In the state of Kansas, there are 299 licensed dairy herds.
  • Kansas dairy farms produce 317 million gallons of milk.
  • Kansas farms generate $519 million in milk sales annually.
  • Kansas is the 16th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In Kansas, the average dairy cow produces 8.3 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 3,029 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year.
  • Kansas has 5 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

Oklahoma

  • In the state of Oklahoma, there are 200 licensed dairy herds.
  • Oklahoma dairy farms produce 99 million gallons of milk.
  • Oklahoma farms generate $171 million in milk sales annually.
  • Oklahoma is the 30th largest milk-producing state in the U.S.
  • In Oklahoma, the average dairy cow produces 6.7 gallons of milk per day. That’s more than 2,446 gallons of milk over the course of a typical year.
  • Oklahoma has 10 plants that process one or more dairy products.
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet.

Note: These statistics were compiled from the following sources:
State Departments of Agriculture
USDA National Agricultural Statistics Services
Dairy industry sources, including the International Dairy Foods Association and Dairy Management, Inc.
© 2013