Southwest U.S. Sees Big Milk Drops

Milk production in Wisconsin during January 2024 totaled 2.72 billion pounds, up 1 percent from last year. This is according to the latest milk production report from USDA.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports the average number of milk cows during January, at 1.27 million head, is the same as both December 2023 and January 2023.

Monthly production per cow averaged 2,145 pounds, up 20 pounds from last January.

The 24 major dairy-producing states saw milk production fall as a group. New Mexico stands out from the crowd with a 16 percent drop from January 2023. See the breakdown:

“The Southwest has been struggling for the past 6-9 months, but it was even worse for January,” says Katie Burgess, broker-analyst with Ever.Ag. “We’ve seen New Mexico alone lose 10,000 dairy cows. That’s a lot of cows moving out of the state. When you look at that part of the world though, the milk prices are not great down there and there are long-running water issues.”

She says farmers have been leaving that part of the country and going to places like the Midwest. South Dakota had a nearly 11 percent increase in milk production from the same time last year.

“We’ve seen South Dakota growing a lot. So the Midwest is still viewed as a very favorable place to milk cows,” Burgess says.