Nebraska ranks in the top ten among all states in "revenue per dairy cow," according to an analysis by American Farm Bureau Federation using USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service data.
Nebraska's average of $3,941 per dairy cow in 2016 was nearly $230 higher than the U.S. average of $3,712. Nebraska ranks seventh overall and second among all Midwestern states — just behind Wisconsin.
"This study provides more evidence that Nebraska is a great place to milk cows," says Rod Johnson, executive director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association. "We have a winning combination of abundant, high-quality feed and water resources, and top-notch producers who work hard to provide their cows with nutritionally balanced diets and proper animal care."
The primary driver, Johnson says, is Nebraska's production levels. NASS statistics put Nebraska's annual average milk production per cow at 23,500 pounds, which ranks Nebraska in the top 10 states in the nation in terms of production. Nebraska's herd is primarily Holsteins, the highest-producing breed among all dairy breeds.
"Nebraska producers are ranked 10th in the country in terms of production per cow, which is continuing evidence that this is a good place to milk cows. We've got a good feed supply and feed quality. Our producers are taking good care of their cows, and it's resulting in high production levels," says Johnson.
He adds that over the last couple years, Nebraska has climbed a spot each year in terms of production per cow. "A year ago we were at number 11, and this year we're number 10. It's an indicator our producers are doing a great job," he says.
While Nebraska's production per cow is on the rise, Johnson adds that in order to continue to grow Nebraska's dairy industry, there's a big demand for additional dairy processors in the state.
Nebraska has five processors among the major markets, while there are several small processors located on farms. Meanwhile, about two-thirds of the milk produced in Nebraska leaves to processors in other states.
"Our efforts are looking to increase markets by bringing potential processors to the state to take advantage of the great opportunities we have for milking cows in Nebraska," Johnson says. "If we can get the processing side to grow, that's bringing economic activity to our rural communities."