This page provides information concerning periodic, scheduled ERS outputs on dairy and recent ERS reports related to dairy.

Milk is produced in all 50 States, with the major producing States in the western and northern areas of the country. Dairy farms, overwhelmingly family owned and managed, are generally members of producer cooperatives. The industry has seen a consistent decline in the number of operations, matched by a rise in the number of cows per operation. Dairy products include fluid beverage milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, dry milk products, condensed milk, and whey products. For more U.S. dairy-related information see Background, Market Outlook, Trade, Policy, and Readings.

ERS provides data and reports on dairy markets, including domestic and international supply, demand, trade, and prices. 

Periodic, Scheduled Outputs on Dairy

  • Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook (LDP), a monthly report that provides supply and use projections for U.S. livestock, dairy, and poultry markets based on USDA's most current World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report (WASDE).
  • Dairy Dataa dataset that includes files covering domestic supply, demand, and trade of various dairy products. Data on the U.S. dairy situation and commercial disappearance are updated monthly, and U.S. milk production and related data are updated quarterly. All other data files are updated annually. These include data on dairy per capita consumption; fluid milk sales; milk supply by State and region; milk production and factors affecting supply and utilization of milk in all dairy products; and numbers and size of milk bottling plants.
  • WASDE at a Glance, a monthly interactive visualization that provides key data and highlights from the WASDE on livestock and dairy as well as field crops. 
  • Commodity Costs and Returns, a data product that provides annual estimates of production costs and returns for major field crops, milk, hogs, and cow-calf. 
  • Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer, a data product that compares prices paid by consumers for food with prices received by farmers for corresponding commodities.

Recent ERS Reports Relating to Dairy 

In addition to the periodic Outlook reports and data products, ERS produces reports covering timely issues important to dairy markets in United States and around the world.

Recent ERS publications relating to the dairy sector include:

  • "Growth in U.S. Dairy Product Exports to Southeast Asia Depends on Competition with Other Major Dairy Exporters" Analysis shows that Southeast Asia’s imports of dairy products from the United States depend on U.S. and foreign export prices. Rising dairy import expenditures for the region could lead to higher or lower U.S. market shares, depending on the product and country (Amber Waves, February 2020).
  • Prospects for Growth in U.S. Dairy Exports to Southeast Asia

    Food demand in Southeast Asia (SEA) is expected to grow in the coming decades, creating opportunities for exporters of dairy products. This study examines the prospects for growth of U.S. dairy exports to the SEA region, and how the U.S. potential to gain or lose market share varies from one Southeast Asian country to another and among products (ERR-278, December 2020).

  • "Plant-Based Products Replacing Cow’s Milk, But the Impact Is Small" Using retail scanner data collected between 2013 and 2017, ERS researchers confirmed that, on average, U.S. households are buying less fluid cow’s milk and rising sales of plant-based milk alternatives are a contributing factor. However, sales of plant-based products are not a primary driver of sales trends for cow’s milk. (Amber Waves, December 2020).
  • "Climatic Trends Dampened Recent Productivity Growth on Wisconsin Dairy Farms" Wisconsin is the second largest milk producer in the United States. Productivity has increased steadily across Wisconsin dairy farms over the years. However, this growth was partially offset by negative effects of climatic variability (Amber Waves, October 2020).
  • "Scale Economies Provide Advantages to Large Dairy Farms" Large dairy operations have significant financial advantages over small and midsized farms, primarily because of lower average production costs per pound of milk produced (Amber Waves, August 2020).
  • Consolidation in U.S. Dairy Farming The number of licensed U.S. dairy herds fell by more than half between 2002 and 2019, with an accelerating rate of decline in 2018 and 2019, even as milk production continued to grow. Production has been shifting to much larger but fewer farms, and that shift shows no sign of slowing. Larger operations realize lower costs of production, on average, and those advantages persist (ERR-274, July 2020).


For more ERS publications on dairy see Readings.