Top 10 Milk-Producing US States

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A dairy cow on a farm in California. California produces more milk than any other US state.

The United States is the leading producer of cow milk in the world, producing more than 90 metric tons to satisfy the domestic demand and some for export. The country's farmers are both small-scale and large-scale with some farmers having as many as 15,000 cows and others as few as 15. The milk can be consumed in its initial form or processed to form milk products such as cheese and yogurt. American milk products have a significant demand being exported to different countries, for example, China and Mexico. A large quantity of the US milk comes from California with farmers delivering more than 39 billion pounds of milk in 2017 alone.


California has produced the most milk in the US since 1993 and generates about a fifth of the total milk produced in the US. Regarding milk products, the state leads when it comes to butter and ice cream and is second in the production of yogurt and cheese. There are more than 1.7 million dairy cows in the state with each having an annual average of about 23,000 pounds of milk. Dairy farming contributes significantly to the Californian economy generating more than 6 billion dollars in 2016. The amount of milk produced in 2017 was less than the amount of milk produced in 2016 with nearly 700 million pounds. Tulare County has the highest milk production in the state.


There are about 9,520 licensed dairy farmers in Wisconsin who own nearly 1.3 million dairy cows that produced more than 30 billion pounds of milk in 2017. Wisconsin used to be the leading producer of milk in the US until California took the lead. Wisconsin has had a long history of milk production with farming families producing their cheese which in 1850 exceeded 400,000 pounds. Wisconsin has had a couple of notable inventions in the milk industry such as John Steinwand's invention of Colby cheese and Stephen Babcock who invented a more straightforward method of measuring milk's butterfat content as well as discovering galactase which hastens the ripening of cheese. In 1921 Wisconsin became the first American state to grade the quality of the cheese produced within the state. Wisconsin is a unique state because it is the only state in the US to have a master cheesemaker program which the state government established in 1994.

New York

Producing more than 14 billion pounds of milk, the state of New York is the third in milk production in the US. Of the more than 600,000 dairy cows in the state, most are Holstein as the breed is renowned for the high quality of milk it produces. Milk in the state is mainly used in the production of high-quality cheese and other milk products sold all over the world.

Global Milk Consumption

More than 200 billion liters of milk are consumed each year globally with Finland consuming the most per capita. Projections indicate that more milk will be consumed globally as the global population is set to increase. Developing countries will be at the forefront of the increase in production as agriculture drives most of their economies. Scientists are consistently looking into developing various ways to increase the yield and make the cattle disease resistant.

Top 10 Milk-Producing US States

RankUS StateMilk Production in million pounds (2017)
3New York14,912
9New Mexico8,212

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