There are Big Dollars in Dairy

There are Big Dollars in Dairy

Did you know that Indiana is one of the top dairy-producing states? We rank 15th in overall milk production, according to the USDA’s statistics, and we rank 2nd in the nation for ice cream production. This means that dairy – delicious, but ever the bane of the lactose intolerant – is very big business in our state. It generates hundreds of millions of dollars in income annually, and soon it’s about to get even bigger. Earlier this year our state launched a plan to add a little more cheddar on top of an already robust industry.

 

Major Economic Splash

Data from the Indiana Department of Agriculture (ISDA) reflects just how big of an economic splash dairy makes here in our state. We produce a little less than 2% of the nation’s output. Based on the past five years’ average value of milk production, dairy farming in Indiana generates an annual average of $698.97 million in direct farm income.

Indiana produces a net surplus of 3.5 million pounds of milk each day, according to the ISDA.

Production supports a whole bunch of other industries, especially with regard to livestock care. The ISDA says that Indiana dairies use approximately 26.14 million bushels of corn, 450,000 tons of alfalfa hay, and 201,600 tons of soybean meal each year. That is a total feed use value of $238.91 million based on the five-year average prices of those feedstuffs.

Data from a 2019 study commissioned by the International Dairy Food Association says the dairy industry in Indiana supports over 19,500 direct jobs and just about 37,250 indirect jobs. Those employment numbers equate to about $691.71 million in direct job wages and adds about $386.9 million in tax contributions to Indiana communities.

Hoosier farmers are also intuitive in terms of ways to generate additional revenue from their farms. For example, agritourism has been on the rise in our state. In the latest census of agriculture, agritourism revenue generated was about $7.139 million.

 

Gettin’ Extra Cheesy

State officials launched the Indiana Dairy Strategy 2.0 this year to give the industry a major boost. The strategy focuses heavily on business expansion, development, and even ways attract other companies to relocate or open their operations here.

“We want to encourage processors and dairy businesses to think of Indiana when realizing expansion or adding an additional location is on the horizon,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch.

“We are proud to support [our dairy farmers] on the state level and will continue to do everything we can to increase milk processing in our state and add value to our dairy products,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director.

The strategy contains several specific pathways by which officials plan to develop the industry. On the legislative level, Indiana already has several positive regulatory and tax tools that are favorable to the industry. Now, these will be further refined and reformed to potentially include new incentives, funding opportunities, and energy benefits. Sustainability is a major trend in dairy production currently, and Indiana plans to leverage those goals as it seeks to boost dairy.

The state will also be working to support the industry in several other ways, including workforce and leadership development, research, and even finding new ways to promote exports. Officials plan to work with producers to identify necessary skills and training for open industry positions and will be working on a number of projects intended to promote Indiana dairy and target new avenues of demand.

 

Gallons of Growth

Indiana is churning a lot of positives already as the state seeks to expand the dairy industry. Our agricultural sector is already making rapid strides toward sustainability, and our existing logistics network and regulatory structure are very favorable for producers. All of this and more make the state highly conducive for a successful and burgeoning dairy industry, so one can anticipate the Dairy Strategy 2.0 will achieve great things.