Letter from Rep. Danou: Wisconsin should be proud of its strong Dairy IndustryOn Tuesday, Governor Scott Walker unveiled an ambitious plan to grow the state's dairy industry.
By: Rep. Chris Danou, Pierce County Herald
On Tuesday, Governor Scott Walker unveiled an ambitious plan to grow the state's dairy industry. The goal: 30 billion pounds of annual milk production by the year 2020. That is a 15 percent increase from last year’s 26.1 billion pounds.
It should be pointed out that last year’s production was a record. In fact, Wisconsin is already the No. 1 state in the nation when it comes to cheese production. We simply need to increase our milk production at a significant pace, to keep up with California’s milk production, which currently leads the nation. Hence, it’s easy to understand why the Governor would have such an ambitious goal for producing milk.
Along with Gov. Walker’s agenda to increase the volume of Wisconsin’s dairy production, there has been much optimism over some recent advancement in the industry. According to a March 16th article from The Dairy Herd Network Online, it is easier to produce greater amounts of milk through feed efficiency, measurement of amino acids in cows and by doing a better job predicting how cows will digest their feeds and utilize them.
In the past year, statistics on Wisconsin’s milk production have been encouraging. Wisconsin’s 1.27 million milk cows produced 26.1 billion pounds of milk last year, representing an increase of less than 1 percent from 2010 and marking a new record for Wisconsin. Statewide, milk per cow averaged 20,646 pounds, 16 pounds more than a year earlier. In 2011, Wisconsin accounted for 13 percent of the nation’s milk production. California continued to be the nation’s top milk producer with 41.5 billion pounds in 2011. Wisconsin was second with 26.1 billion pounds, while Idaho produced 13.2 billion pounds to stay in third place. New York and Pennsylvania maintained their fourth and fifth places, respectively, but Texas passed Minnesota to move into sixth place in state production.
However, when it comes to cheese production Wisconsin remains second to none. Wisconsin cheese-makers produced well more than the national average and over 25 percent of all cheese produced nationwide. California continues to be in second place producing just over 21 percent of the nation’s cheese supply. As an example of how Wisconsin’s cheese market continues to grow, statistics indicate that Wisconsin cheese factories pumped out 230-million-pounds of products in December, up 3.5-percent from the same month a year ago. That's the most in the country. Second-place California increased its cheese output by 2.7-percent to 195-million pounds. Nationally, 929-million pounds of cheese were made in the final month of 2011 -- an increase of 2.4-percent.
With ambitious goals to increase production over the next few years, we can expect that Wisconsin will retain its title as the “dairy state” and continue to produce records amounts of product.