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Census points to contraction in U.S. dairy farms


While the number of U.S. dairy cows and milk production continue to increase, the latest Census of Agriculture shows a drop of more than 10,000 farms with milk sales between 2012 and 2017.

The total number of farms with milk cows, which includes farms that produce milk only for their own consumption, doesn’t offer a clear snapshot of the dairy industry. But the census also includes a tally of those selling milk.

The number of farms reporting at least one dairy cow on the premises totaled 54,499. The number of farms reporting milk sales in 2017 was 40,336, a decrease of 10,220 farms reporting milk sales in the 2012 census.

By the end of 2017, however, 1,033 farms that reported milk sales in 2017 no longer had a milk cow inventory — leaving the count of those still milking at 39,303.

Nine states reported an increase in farms with milk cows, and 23 states reported more total milk cows, including seven of the top 10 dairy states. All of the top 10 states, however, showed a contraction in farms with milk cows.

For the top 10 milk-producing states in 2017, from highest to lowest, the 2017 census shows the following changes in farms with milk cows from the 2012 census:

• California — 1,653 farms, a loss of 278, and a loss of 65,326 cows.

• Wisconsin — 9,037 farms, a loss of 2,506, and a gain of 10,304 cows.

• New York — 4,648 farms, a loss of 779, and a gain of 17,533 cows.

• Idaho — 785 farms, a loss of 149, and a gain of 25,056 cows.

• Texas — 467 farms, a loss of 518, and a gain of 96,921 cows.

• Michigan — 2,158 farms, a loss of 251, and a gain of 65,777 cows.

• Pennsylvania — 6,914 farms, a loss of 915, and a loss of 4,718 cows.

• Minnesota — 3,644 farms, a loss of 1,102, and a loss of 5,511 cows.

• New Mexico — 389 farms, a loss of 21, and a gain of 19,010 cows.

• Washington — 661 farms, a loss of 137, and a gain of 9,925 cows.

In March, USDA released its latest tally of licensed dairy herds, putting the count at 37,468 — a decrease of 2,731 between 2017 and 2018.

During that time, California’s dairy count fell 55 to 1,335; Wisconsin’s fell 590 to 8,500; New York’s fell 280 to 4,190; Idaho’s fell 30 to 480 and Texas held steady at 400.

Michigan’s licensed dairy numbers fell 230 to 1,520; Pennsylvania’s fell 370 to 6,200; Minnesota’s fell 230 to 2,980; New Mexico’s fell 10 to 140; and Washington’s fell 20 to 565.

Source: capitalpress.com


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