Licensed Dairy Farm Numbers Drop Nearly 4% in 2017

Dairy cows in milking parlor. ( Farm Journal, Inc. )

In its January milk production report released today, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that the number of licensed U.S. dairy farms dropped by 1,600 farms to 40,219. That’s a decline of 3.8%.

Over the past decade,  the U.S. has lost nearly 17,000 dairy farms, or a decline of about 30%.

With 9.4 million cows in the U.S. dairy herd in January of this year, the average herd size is now 234 cows. The average herd size in 2008 was about 163 cows.

Wisconsin still has the most licensed dairy farms, with 9,090 farms shipping milk. But it lost 430 farms in 2017. Pennsylvania came in second with 6,570 farms, down just 80 operations. New York reports 4,490 licensed operations, down 160 farms. And Minnesota has 3,210 dairy farms remaining, down 140 farms.

California, still the largest dairy producing state, was down 30 licensed farms, with just 1,390 continuing to operate. But based on January 2018 cow numbers, the average herd in California is milking 1,250 cows. In Wisconsin, the Number 2 dairy state, the average herd size is 140 cows.

To see your state’s licensed dairy farm numbers, click here and scroll to page 18.