Part of this difference might be explained by nearly ideal weather conditions for making milk in the Midwest. But more of the differences are likely explained by dairy production systems used in the regions.
Bob Yonkers, chief economist for the International Dairy Foods Association, points out East-of-the-Mississippi dairy producers typically are more diversified, raising much of their own feed and replacements. They also typically operate with more conservative debt-to-asset ratios.
"Dairy operations in the Western United States over the past few decades increasingly have specialized their dairy operations to only milking cows,” he says.