US milk production still on the rise, while rest of the world slows

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

US milk production has been on a gradual increase since September 2015, but production is expected stabilize at the beginning of 2017. ©iStock/Toa55
US milk production has been on a gradual increase since September 2015, but production is expected stabilize at the beginning of 2017. ©iStock/Toa55

Related tags Milk production Cattle Dairy farming Milk

US milk production is still on the rise, according to a September inventory report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, which indicated a 2.1% increase compared to 2015 reaching a total of 16.7bn lbs of milk. 

Upturn and downturn in states

Among the 23 milk production states, four states experienced an uptick in production while seven states recorded a downturn in overall milk production for September 2016.

Four of the top six highest dairy production states (Idaho, New York, Michigan, and Texas) ramped up production from a 4.9% in September 2015 to a 5.8% increase in September 2016, creating an inventory of 1.228bn lbs and 1.209bn lbs respectively.

Wisconsin also contributed to the national increase with its increase of 3.3% for a September total of 2.439bn lbs of milk, an increase of 79m lbs from September 2015.

The largest dairy producing state by sheer volume, California, decreased by 2m lbs (.1%) in September, amounting to 3.17bn lbs of milk.

Milk production in New Mexico was down by 3.5% to 625m pounds for September. The other states reporting decreases between September 2015 and September 2016 were Virginia, Utah, Florida, Oregon, and Illinois.

Uptick in dairy cows

According to the report, the number of dairy cows has increased by 22,000 from the same period last year to a total of 9.338m in September 2016. The average milk yield per cow of 1,817 lbs was also up by 33 lbs per cow from one year ago.

The USDA projects that the number of dairy cows will reach 9.36m and 9.38m by the third and fourth quarters respectively, putting the US dairy herd size on track to be the largest it has been in 20 years.

Dairy herd size is expected to continue to expand into the second quarter of 2017, with dairy cow numbers expected to level off due to relatively low milk prices.

Snapshot of global dairy industry

While US milk production increased in September, other major milk producing countries are experiencing a downswing in milk yields.

The latest figures from Australia show that milk production fell 9.3% in August compared to the same month in 2015 while in New Zealand milk production fell 2.7% for the same month.

In the EU, Milk Market Observatory figures showed that July production fell 1.9% in August, marking the third consecutive fall of milk production for the EU this year. 

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