A study by the Community Alliance for Responsible Stewardship (CARES) shows that the California dairy industry creates 122,000 jobs and $17.5 billion in annual economic activity in the state.

Dairy’s contribution is felt most strongly in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley, where nearly 67,000 jobs — more than 5 percent of the total workforce — are linked to milk producers and milk processors in the area. And, industry experts predict moderate growth in the dairy sector over the next decade could add about 25,000 jobs to the area by 2010.

Here’s a listing of the key points from the study:

  • For every two jobs on California dairy farms, another three jobs are created off farm by the purchase of goods and services by the dairy and its employees.
  • More than 4,600 people are employed at San Joaquin Valley dairy processing plants, while purchases by those plants and their employees create 18,500 additional jobs.

“Like everyone else, dairy industry workers buy clothes, cars and groceries, and pay for services like insurance and day care,” says Jim King, president of Applied Development Economics, which conducted the study. “That means jobs for people who make those goods or offer those services. Clearly, the dairy industry’s benefit to the community is felt well beyond the dairy farm.”

CARES, a coalition of business, community and agricultural leaders and groups that support an environmentally responsible and economically healthy dairy industry in California, conducted the study in part to help all parties understand the economic contributions of the dairy industry.

“We can’t and we shouldn’t consider general planning and permitting matters in a vacuum,” said Deidre Kelsey, county supervisor of Merced. Having this information will “help us make good decisions that balance our communities’ needs for jobs and prosperity with sound environmental management plans.”