An analysis of dairy farms shipping milk into the Upper Midwest Federal Milk Marketing Order shows farm numbers have declined 6,861, a 30% drop between May 2000 and May 2011. Milk production from the remaining farms is up 29%.
This does not mean this number of farms actually went out of business, notes Henry Schaefer, author of the report. Milk plants may have pooled milk on different Federal Orders, and the data would thus not be recorded by the Upper Midwest Order.
Nevertheless, the largest decline in milk shipments came from small farms, those shipping less than 249,999 lb. per month. Farms that ship 250,000 lb. or more per month now account for about 15% of the farms in the Upper Midwest, and ship almost 65% of the milk.
In 2000, there were no farms shipping more than 5 million lb. per month. In 2011, there were four such entities—and they now account for nearly 9% of Upper Midwest Federal Order shipments, says Schaefer.