Dairy consumption going up nationwide.
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Photo by Lou Varricchio Vermont whole milk sales have been climbing since 2013. Pictured: Holstein cows feeding at a Nop Brothers farm on Blake Roy Road along the Middlebury-Salisbury town line.

There’s some good news for Addison County dairy farmers. Dairy consumption is on the rise and Vermont cheese has finally making in-roads against Wisconsin cheese.

Dairy consumption in the USA has changed substantially over the past two decades and continues to shift.

While fluid milk consumption has been steadily declining for years, Americans are actually consuming more dairy than ever—6% more (by milk equivalent) in 2018 than five years prior.

This growth is largely driven by cheese and butter consumption, which grew 13% and 6%, respectively, from 2013 to 2018, while fluid milk consumption dropped by 12%.

Since cheese and butter require many pounds of milk to produce a single pound of finished product, Americans now consume more milk in the form of cheese and butter than they do as fluid.

Vermont-produced cheese has been steadily climbing in New England market share over the past five years; in 2018, Vermont cheese surpassed Wisconsin cheese in New England market share for the first time, and increased its lead over Wisconsin in 2019.

Wisconsin has lost market share for the last four years, whereas Vermont has shown recent gains.

Last week, staff of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (VACCD) outlined to legislators the new the Dairy Marketing Assessment Report which looks at the future of dairy here and the economic viability of expanding dairy markets.

VAAFM will receive $6.45 million over three years allowing Vermont and the region to focus on innovative ideas and projects that will give the dairy sector options.

“We are focused on improving the bottom line for all dairy farmers,” said VAAFM Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “This comprehensive report gives us a path to improve the dairy economy. Farming is important and farmers are important to the future of Vermont.”

Tebbetts said that in 2017, Vermont dairy receipts totaled $504,884,000 million dollars, accounting for 65% of Vermont’s total agriculture receipts. In total, agriculture was responsible for $776,105,000 million in receipts.

VACCD Department of Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein said, “This report is an important piece to help the Vermont dairy industry – an industry, like so many in Vermont that has combined its historic roots with innovation to produce some of the best food in the world.”

Data provided by New England Dairy reveals additional trends in fluid milk consumption at both the national and New England levels.

Grass-fed milk, which accounts for 0.4% of the New England market and 0.25% of the U.S. market by sales value, saw tremendous growth from 2015 to 2018; the segment grew by 13% for the U.S. during the first three quarters of 2019 but dropped by 13% for New England.

Jerry Dakin’s cows have produced milk that helped feed families across the state for decades. Now, the longtime Manatee County dairyman has been recognized as Florida’s Farmer of the Year.

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