06/08/2021: National Dairy Month and Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics

Wisconsin’s Dairy industry has grown tremendously in the past century. ​​​​​​​​​​​Farmers are milking more cows, many farms have become incorporated and technology has allowed for innovations in the industry that have increased production and efficiency. But one thing that hasn’t change is that over 90% of Wisconsin’s dairy farms are family-owned and operated.

Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland but there is more produced and processed in our state than just milk and cheese. Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for: snap beans for processing, cheese, cranberries, ginseng, mink pelts, dry whey for humans, milk goats and corn for silage.

Wisconsin agriculture is a big economic driver contributing $104.8 billion annually to our state’s economy.

  • Food processing activity contributes $82.7 billion to industrial sales.
  • The state is home to 64,793 farms on 14.3 million acres. The average farm size in Wisconsin is 221 acres.

Wisconsin agriculture provides jobs.

  • Annually, 435,700 jobs or 11.8% of the state’s employment.
  • On-farm production contributes 154,000 jobs.
  • Processing contributes 282,000 jobs.

Wisconsin is one of the top states in the production of the major processing vegetables.

  • In 2020, Wisconsin grew 5.66 million cwt of snap beans, 1.82 million cwt of carrots, and 1.14 million cwt of green peas.
  • The state ranks third in the nation in potato production, harvesting potatoes on 69,500 acres in 2020.

The state is known for its fruit production, including its state fruit – the cranberry.

  • Wisconsin cranberry production for 2020 totaled 4.64 million barrels. Growers harvested 20,800 acres. Wisconsin produces 59 percent of th​e nation’s crop making us the top cranberry producing state in the country.
  • The state also produces a large tart cherry crop, producing 10.1 million pounds in 2020.
  • Wisconsin boasts many apple orchards producing 49.0​ million pounds of apples in 2018.

Wisconsin is home to nearly 7,000 dairy farms, more than any other state, and 1.28 million cows.​

  • The dairy industry itself contributes $45.6 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year.
  • The feed mills, dairy equipment manufacturers and technicians, veterinarians, construction companies, genetics companies, milk haulers, dairy plants,  dairy software companies – create a wave of economic impact that rolls across the entire state.

Wisconsin is #1 in cheese.

  • Our state’s nearly 1,200 licensed cheesemakers produce over 600 types, styles and varieties of cheese – nearly double the number of any other state.
  • Wisconsin cheesemakers make 26% ​of the nation’s cheese, producing 3.39 billion pounds in 2020.
  • In 2020, the state ​led the nation with the production of 796 million pounds of specialty cheeses, including but not limited to asiago, gorgonzola, gruyere, aged cheddar, gouda, and limburger. ​

Wisconsin exported more than $3.37 billion of agricultural and food products in 2020 to 145 countries.

  • Wisconsin currently ranks 13th among U.S. states in food, forestry, and agricultural exports.
  • Wisconsin ranks first in the export of ginseng roots, prepared/preserved cranberries, raw furskins, and bovine semen.
  • ​​The state’s top agricultural export markets include Canada, China, and Japan.​
  • Miscellaneous foods (ingredients, sau​ces, yeasts, mustards)​ were​ Wisconsin’s most valuable agricultural export category in 2020.​​
Source: datcp.wi.gov  (Updated May 6, 2021)​​



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