Sept. 5 2014 06:09 AM

We are well on track for a fifth record year in a row in 2014

Because they started so modestly and have grown so quickly, it is easy to forget how important exports have become to the financial well being of the U.S. dairy industry.
And it is impossible to not be stunned by how big they have become.

Once again, U.S. dairy exports are well on their way to setting new all-time records for total milk volume and dollar value in 2014. Unless they fall off a cliff the next few months, it will be the fifth record year in a row.

But just how much do exports amount to and what does it mean to U.S. dairy producers?

It means that in the last 10 years (including just the first half of 2014), U.S. exports have totaled over 203 billion pounds on a milk solids equivalent basis. That is roughly all of what is expected to be produced in the U.S. this year.

In 2013, exports amounted to more milk than was made in Wisconsin, the nation's second-largest dairy state, and Colorado combined.

In dollar terms, the last 10 years of export sales have totaled over $36 billion.

Moving that much product out of the country each year has become vital to the economic health of U.S. dairy producers. Their continued ability to expand herd size or go into business, not to mention continued genetic gains in milk production per cow, hinges on finding new customers for milk outside of the U.S.

Dennis blog footer
The author has served large Western dairy readers for the past 37 years and manages Hoard's WEST, a publication written specifically for Western herds. He is a graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, majored in journalism and is known as a Western dairying specialist.