crowded urban area

For the East Coast, it's a decades-old problem that has become a growing gulf. The 15 states that touch the Atlantic Ocean . . . along with Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia . . . are home to 37.5 percent of the nation's population found on the mainland. However, they only produce 18 percent of the nation's milk. This makes moving highly perishable dairy products a challenge. And that reason alone justifies the importance of Federal Milk Marketing Orders.

How do other regions fare?

The Midwest and Heartland are net dairy product exporters. These regions, which contain a combined 20 states, are closer to breakeven though in terms of people and milk production. This area dubbed as the Central region is wedged between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains and produces 41 percent of the nation's milk, reported Federal Milk Marketing Order specialists in its June newsletter. It also is home to 39.5 percent of the consumers.

Then there are the 11 westernmost states. Like those in the central U.S., the West produces 41 percent of the nation's milk. However, they are only home to 23 percent of the people. And of that total, California has 12 percent of the nation's population.

While that makes the West prime time for filling the nation's growing export market, it also presents a challenge when serving markets on the East Coast, which need to "import" half of their dairy products from other parts of the U.S.

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