Gov. Doyle: Announces Wisconsin 2007 milk production sets 17-year record

Contacts: Carla Vigue, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162

Robin Engel, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 608-224-5002

Also Reports Growth in Dairy Exports, Increase in Number of Dairy Cows

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today reported that at current pace, Wisconsin farmers will produce 24.1 billion pounds of milk this year, the greatest amount since 1990, reflecting significant private investment by the state’s dairy farmers and record milk prices. The record-setting milk production is in addition to dramatic growth in the state’s dairy exports, a small but steady increase in the number of dairy cows, and dramatically fewer dairy farms leaving the business.

“Wisconsin’s dairy industry and farm families demonstrate why agriculture continues to drive our state economy,” Governor Doyle said. “Innovation and continued investment have resulted in unprecedented growth. Growing milk production is allowing our world famous producers to export more cheese and whey, meeting rising demand and keeping our economy strong.”

“No other state in the union can boast the quality, quantity or staying power of Wisconsin’s family dairy farms,” said Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen. “This is explosive growth in dairy exports – unlike anything we’ve seen. We have room to increase dairy production substantially.”

Governor Doyle recently announced his Next Generation Agriculture Plan that includes several initiatives to help dairy plants modernize and expand into growing markets. The plan includes a whey initiative to help plants invest in the growing national and international market for whey, a dairy plant investment tax credit to help processors modernize and a cheese cooperative tax credit to help cheese cooperatives streamline and modernize. It also includes a nutrient management program to help farmers better manage nutrients and protect water, a grazing lands conservation initiative to help farmers practice more effective land management and a meat modernization tax credit to help the state’s meat processing plants streamline and modernize.

Wisconsin’s 14,000 family dairy farms have invested about $1 billion to modernize in the past 5 years to expand and become more efficient. The Next Generation Agriculture Plan builds on that momentum.

Milk production climbed 3 percent in 2007, driven by strong demand for dairy products, according to figures released by the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service on Tuesday. Milk production per cow has set a record every month in 2007 compared to the same month the year before.

Dairy exports reached record levels for the first nine months in 2007, driven by soaring demand in developing countries in Asia and Latin America. The dollar value of Wisconsin dairy exports increased from $59 million in the first nine months of 2006 to $127 million in the first nine months of 2007 – a 114 percent increase. Exports of whey, a by-product of cheese making, increased by 179 percent.

The number of milk cows continued to trend upward for the second year in a row. The average number of dairy cows in the state increased to 1,248,000 in 2007 – up by 5,000 head. The number of dairy cows in the state was higher every month in 2007, compared to the same month the year before.

The decrease in dairy farms has slowed. Ten years ago, herds were declining at more than 1,000 a year. The annual decline in the number of herds in 2007 was only 416.