USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released a report this afternoon showing concentration in the dairy industry continues at breakneck speed.
"In 2009, operations with 500 or more head accounted for 5% of the total milk cow operations, 56% of the milk cows and 60% of the milk production," say authors. "Contrast this with 2001, when large operations only accounted for 3% of operations, 35% of milk cows and 39% of production."
The very largest herds, those with 2,000 or more cows, are also dramatically increasing market share. In 2001, they represented just 0.3% of dairy operations, 12% of cows and 13% of production. By 2009, their numbers more than doubled and the number of cows and milk production rose by 150%.
The two leading dairy states, California and Wisconsin, also showed big gains. But they achieved those gains slightly differently. California’s milk production is up 19% on the strength of 13% more cows and 5% more milk per cow. Wisconsin’s milk production is up 14% since 2001, but its increase came solely through a 17% bump in milk per cow. Wisconsin cow numbers over the eight years declined 3% (though they are now rebounding).
One of the most striking features in the report is a map showing state-by-state milk production changes. Virtually all Western States, with the exception of Montana, North Dakota and Oklahoma, show gains in milk production. But the entire southeast quadrant of the country, from Missouri south and east show declines. The only exceptions are Indiana, Michigan, New York and Ohio.