The dairy industry in Washington state plays a big role in the state’s economy. 

According to a study by Washington State University, the state’s dairy industry generated an economic benefit of $5.2 billion in 2011 ― up $893 million from the contribution in 2006.

"This was the first comprehensive economic study on Washington's milk production and related activities," said Dan Wood, director of government relations for the Washington State Dairy Federation. "It's impressive that it has more than a $5 billion impact. ... Policy decisions are being made at the state and local levels, and public officials need to know the value of dairy and the jobs created.

"Dairy farms play a much larger role in the state's economy than most people realize," he said. Read more from the Capital Press.

To read the Washington State University study, entitled "Economic Contribution Analysis of Washington Dairy Farms and Dairy Processing," click here.