On a percentage basis, USDA’s latest Milk Production report shows Kansas’ milk production grew at the fastest rate in the United States in 2013, up 7.3% from the year before.

Kansas also posted the third-largest increase in total pounds of milk production in 2013 – up 200 million lbs. from 2012, to 2.93 billion lbs. – trailing only Wisconsin (+348 million lbs.) and New York (+279 million lbs.) for annual growth.

Kansas had 325 dairy farms commercially licensed to sell milk in 2013, down 15 from 2012. However, milk cow numbers increased by 8,000 head, to 134,000, and milk output per cow rose 198 lbs., to 21,881 lbs. for the year.

Based on preliminary 2013 data, Kansas ranks 13th in milk per cow, falling one spot from 2012; 16th in the number of cows, up one spot from 2012 (nudging ahead of Vermont); 20th in the number of dairy herds; and 16th in total milk production.

January 2014 exhibited continued growth: Kansas cow numbers rose to 137,000 head, with January 2014 milk production up 5.3% from January 2013.

The dairy industry in Kansas is a crucial component to the state’s agricultural industry and overall economic growth. According to Josh Roe, economist for the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the value of milk produced in Kansas in 2013 totaled nearly $592 million in 2013, adding approximately $131 million to the Kansas economy and 482 jobs in 2013.

“The remarkable growth we have seen in Kansas this year and in years past is an excellent testament to the quality of work Kansas dairymen and women conduct on a daily basis,” said Billy Brown, Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Agribusiness Development coordinator. “Our dairies are an economic engine for rural Kansas, and we thank our dairy farmers for their commitment to continuing to grow the industry and rural Kansas by producing a wholesome and nutritious product.”

As the national demand for food and agricultural products continue to grow, Kansas is rising as a dairy frontier, with abundant farmland, feed supply, a friendly climate and agriculture-based culture.

For more information on Kansas’ dairy industry, please visit www.agriculture.ks.gov/divisions-programs/dairy-in-kansas.