What will dairy look like in 2027?

USDA and the University of Missouri’s Food & Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) conduct baseline projections each year for a number of agricultural sectors. That includes dairy.

While USDA provides numbers for the dairy industry, FAPRI provides an independent perspective for Congress and other trade groups. The projections for the near term are quite close. However, by 2027, the numbers have either a bullish or bearish overtone.

Milk production — As a baseline, U.S. dairy farmers produced 215.5 billion pounds of milk in 2017. To be fair, both USDA and FAPRI projections peg growth in the U.S. milk supply. That supply grew 13.2 percent from 2008 to 2017.

More bullish milk outlook — USDA projects that U.S. dairy farmers will produce 249.1 billion pounds in 2027. That would be up 33.6 billion pounds or 15.6 percent more milk over the next decade.

More bearish milk outlook — FAPRI projects that U.S. dairy farmers will produce 242.1 billion pounds in 2027. That would be up 26.6 billion pounds or 12.3 percent more milk over the next decade.

Cow numbers — There were 9.4 million dairy cows in the collective U.S. dairy herd in 2017. As a comparison, there were 9.3 million cows a decade ago.

More bullish milk outlook — USDA projects that there will be 9,545,000 dairy cows by 2027. That would be up 153,000 cows or 1.6 percent over the next decade.

More bearish milk outlook — FAPRI projects that there will be 9,347,000 dairy cows by 2027. That would be down 45,000 cows or minus 0.5 percent over the next decade.

Milk per cow — The average U.S. dairy cow produced 22,931 pounds of milk or 2,668 gallons in 2017. As a comparison, cows averaged 20,396 pounds per cow in 2008 for 2,535 more pounds for a 12.4 percent growth rate.

More bullish milk outlook — USDA projects cows will average 26,205 pounds of milk by 2027. That would be 3,274 more pounds of milk or up 14.3 percent over the next decade.

More bearish milk outlook — FAPRI projects cows will average 25,889 pounds of milk by 2027. That would be 2,958 more pounds of milk or up 12.9 percent over the next decade.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2018
April 23, 2018
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