Dairy’s Impact on Illinois

Dairying in Illinois includes 1,117 dairy farmers and 90 processing plants, whose industry generates:

  • $8 billion a year for the Illinois economy
  • 11,600 Illinois jobs


Nearly 75% of the milk produced in Illinois is marketed through five farmer-owned dairy cooperatives.

  • Dairy Farmers of America
  • Mid-West Dairymen’s Company
  • Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.
  • Swiss Valley Farms Co.
  • Foremost Farms USA


In 2006 Illinois had:

  • 104,000 milk cows
  • 52,000 replacement heifers
  • Nearly 2 billion pounds of milk


Additional Illinois facts:

  • Average Dairy Herd Size: 93 cows
  • Ranks 20th in milk production in U.S.


Illinois is a milk deficit state: Illinois dairy farmers only produce 153 pounds of milk per person.  The national average for dairy consumption is 597 pounds per person.  Illinois ships in milk from as far as 1,500 miles away when the state could realize the jobs and economic impact itself.

More than 60% of the cost of producing milk is attributed to feed costs and Illinois is blessed with an abundance of feedstuffs.  Also, given the tremendous growth in ethanol facilities, dairy cattle are able to utilize the co-products of ethanol production making for a very efficient production system.

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