When it comes to milk production meeting the needs of citizens, 26 states fall short of even producing enough milk to fill beverage milk demand. Those states each produce less than 300 pounds of milk per person, which is the threshold for meeting fluid and soft dairy product needs.
As the graphic indicates, nearly all those red states start in a crescent shaped pattern from Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma and then sweep south and east, with New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont being the only states that exceed dairy product production needs for its state’s residents and hence the green shading.
That green threshold is 600 pounds of dairy products per person, which makes the state a net dairy product exporter. In this crescent-shaped area of the country, Ohio and Maine are mid-level states marked in yellow, meaning they fill fluid milk needs but not all dairy product sales. Back in 2014, Indiana had been in this group with 590 pounds of milk produced per person. However, the state’s dairy farmers slowly grew milk production, and the state eventually became green, now standing at 646 pounds of milk per person.
In the western half of the country, only the mainland states of Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota are milk deficit and shaded red. Hawaii and Alaska join that mix, too, as USDA doesn’t even report dairy farm numbers there due to the limited number of dairy operations.
This Western region only features three yellow states: North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. Of that group, Texas is making a major ascent to becoming a green state. In 2014, the Lone Star State produced just 382 pounds of milk per person. By 2022, that number leapt to 550 pounds. Even though Texas could very well become the nation’s third largest milk producing state in 2023, its “milk per person” number is far lower than Idaho as Texas has the country’s second largest population with 9% of all Americans living there.
The big dairy exporters
There are five states that significantly top the pack of 19 green-shaded dairy exporting states:
- Idaho, 8,575 pounds
- Wisconsin, 5,411 pounds
- South Dakota, 4,573 pounds
- Vermont, 3,947 pounds
- New Mexico, 3,382 pounds
When looking back to 2014, Idaho, Wisconsin, and South Dakota all have grown their respective milk production in relationship to their state resident population. Since 2014, Idaho has expanded that number by 87 pounds; Wisconsin, 583 pounds, and South Dakota, a whopping 2,101 pounds.
On the flip side, Vermont slid by 308 pounds and New Mexico dropped further by 504 pounds.