While it still stands on top of “Milk Mountain,” California only accounted for 18.47 percent of the nation’s milk flow last year. That’s the lowest market share since 1999 when the state produced 30.5 billion pounds of milk for 18.7 percent of the nation’s milk production.
Even at the 18.47 percent market share of U.S. milk production, no state has ever posted a higher number than California, according to data from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).
Wisconsin’s top percentage was posted in 1988 when the Badger State produced 25 billion pounds of milk and accounted for 17.2 percent of U.S. milk production. At the moment, Wisconsin produces 14.07 percent of U.S. milk.
As a point of reference, during Wisconsin’s 80-year run as the nation’s leading milk producer, it ranged from 11 to 17 percent market share. During that era, milk flow was more spread out across states nationally. These days, third and fourth ranked New York and Idaho account for less than half of Wisconsin’s milk flow at 6.92 and 6.79 percent, respectively.
California’s big run
When California overtook the Badger State as the nation’s leading milk producer, it collected 22.9 billion pounds from its dairy herds for 15.2 percent of America’s milk production. That number grew steadily and peaked at a record high in 2007 at 21.91 percent of milk flow based on 40.7 billion pounds of milk. That number held above 21 percent from 2004 to 2011, except for 2009’s slight dip at 20.87 percent.
Since 2011, the Golden State’s market share has fallen every year, with 2014 being the lone exception.