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Related Reports

Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook (monthly) provides key dairy data, market outlook, and forecasts.

Long-Term Growth in U.S. Cheese Consumption May Slow (August 2010). Cheese production and markets have emerged as important dairy industry elements over the past three decades. Supply-and-use analysis shows an upward trend in total cheese consumption over the past three decades. Nielsen 2005 retail Homescan data were used to analyze cheese consumption by location, as well as by income, age, and racial/ethnic groups. Own-price and expenditure demand elasticities were also calculated using the Nielsen data. To the extent that increases in consumers' food expenditure translate into more cheese purchases, it is expected that total cheese consumption will continue to rise. However, changes in the demographic profile of the U.S. population may somewhat slow future growth.

Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming (November 2009) uses 2005 ARMS data for U.S. dairy operations, which include a targeted sample of organic milk producers, to examine the structure, costs, and challenges of organic milk production. Findings suggest that economic forces have made organic operations more like conventional operations and that the future structure of the industry may depend on the interpretation and implementation of new organic pasture rules.

Low Costs Drive Production to Large Dairy Farms (September 2007) reports that average production costs per hundredweight (cwt) of milk produced fall sharply with herd size. Large dairy farms earn substantial profits, while most smaller operations experience economic losses. Given the cost advantages, the shift of dairy production to large farms contributes to rising industry productivity and lower real dairy prices. For the full report, see Profits, Costs, and the Changing Structure of Dairy Farming (September 2007).

Retail and Consumer Aspects of the Organic Milk Market (May 2007) analyzes retail scanner data from 2004 and finds that most purchasers of organic milk are White, high income, and well educated. Consumer interest in organic milk has burgeoned, resulting in rapid growth in retail sales of organic milk. Most organic milk is sold in supermarkets, and organic price premiums are large and vary by region.

U.S. Dairy at a New Crossroads in a Global Setting (November 2005) highlights changing economic and policy forces facing the U.S. dairy industry today. As dairy markets evolve, U.S. milk producers and processors are positioned to pursue both domestic and export market opportunities. For the full report, see U.S. Dairy at a Global Crossroads (November 2006).

Impacts of Trade Liberalization on the U.S. Dairy Market (August 2006) reviews the economic effects of trade liberalization in world dairy markets by examining effects on farm milk prices and production, producer and consumer surpluses, and government revenues and program expenditures. The empirical analysis suggests multilateral trade liberalization leads to generally modest price and production impacts on U.S. milk producers.

Dairy Backgrounder (July 2006) reports that shifts over time in consumer demands, the location and structure of milk production, industry concentration, international markets, and trade agreements have dramatically altered the U.S. dairy industry and changed the context for dairy policies and the sector as a whole. In the future, the U.S. dairy industry is likely to become more fully integrated with international markets.

Trade Liberalization in International Dairy Markets: Estimated Impacts (February 2006) examines issues related to modeling complex policy regimes that affect international dairy markets. Average bound tariffs for dairy remain among the highest of all agricultural commodities and dairy trade is characterized by a large number of megatariffs and tariff-rate quotas (TRQs). Modeling results indicate that liberalization would reduce world dairy product supplies and increase the value of dairy trade.

Dairy Policies in Japan (August 2005) provides a detailed description and analysis of Japan's policies that support its milk producers and regulate dairy markets. If Japan's policies were liberalized, prices and production in Japan would fall, but sizable milk production would remain.

Economic Effects of U.S. Dairy Policy and Alternative Approaches to Milk Pricing 16x16 - PDF (July 2004) shows that the effects of dairy programs on markets are modest and that current dairy programs are limited in their ability to change the long-term economic viability of dairy farms. Other forces--technology, changing consumer demand, and changes in the marketing and processing sectors--while difficult to measure, are likely to have more impact. (This file is 1.5 MB in size and may take time to download.)

Effects of U.S. Dairy Policies on Markets for Milk and Dairy Products (May 2004) examines the economic effects of the principal current dairy sector programs. The analytical results address the economic impacts of Federal milk marketing orders, direct payments to producers, price supports, and export programs.

Manure Management for Water Quality (June 2003) evaluates the costs of spreading manure on cropland at the farm, regional, and national levels. EPA regulations enacted in February 2003 require concentrated animal feeding operations (generally the largest producers of hogs, chicken, dairy, and beef cattle) to meet nutrient application standards when spreading their manure on cropland in order to preserve water resources from nitrogen and phosphorus runoff. USDA is encouraging all animal feeding operations to do the same. If all operations meet the new standards, increases in production costs could be felt throughout the food and agricultural system.

The Changing Landscape of U.S. Milk Production (June 2002) illustrates how milk production has changed in the United States since 1975. Questions of how much milk is produced, where it is produced, and by whom it is produced are important both nationally and regionally. Dairy farms continue to grow, become more specialized, and, in some regions, more concentrated. But small traditional dairy farms also remain part of the industry.

Milk Pricing in the United States (March 2001) provides a primer on the U.S. milk market, cutting through the complexities to describe key pricing mechanisms and to provide a basis for more detailed study. Farm milk prices in the United States are determined by public and private pricing institutions whose interactions have become complex.


U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Marketing Service

  • Dairy Programs. Information on Federal milk marketing orders, grading, research and promotion, and Federal rulemaking.
  • Dairy Market News Portal. Market information on milk and dairy products.

Farm Service Agency

  • Dairy Operations. Government purchase information on the milk price support program.
  • Price Support. Includes information on the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

Foreign Agricultural Service, Dairy Analysis. Links to publications, charts, and information on international trade.

National Agricultural Statistics Service. Historical data, publications, and the Census of Agriculture.

Risk Management Agency. Information about risk management programs available to producers.

Rural Development, Cooperatives Program. Research reports, cooperative information reports, and service reports with statistics and information on all types of cooperatives.

World Agricultural Outlook Board.World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reports and Agricultural Outlook Forum speeches.

National Agricultural Library, National Agricultural Library Digital Repository (NALDR). Online browsing of historical ERS Agricultural Economic Reports and Agriculture Information Bulletins.

Other Government Agencies

U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. Census data on population is used for computations of per capita dairy product consumption. The Economic Census provides information on dairy product firms by product used.

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Macroeconomic information used for market outlook and research work.

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Databases, Tables, and Calculators by Subject. Retail dairy product prices and milk and dairy product price indexes.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Regulations and compliance related to sanitation of interstate milk shipments, labeling of fluid milk and dairy products, and evaluation of new animal drugs.

United States Trade Representative, Agriculture. Agricultural trade position of the United States and other trade-related information.


California Department of Food and Agriculture, Dairy. California's state milk marketing program operation and related data.

World Trade Organization. Multilateral trade data and information, including agriculture.

Last updated: Friday, June 22, 2012

For more information contact: Roger Hoskin

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