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United States Department of Agriculture
National Agricultural Statistics Service

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  Milk Production

Milk Production

The Milk Production survey samples are randomly selected from each state's list of dairy producers. When feasible, NASS utilizes administrative data from Federal Milk Marketing Orders, the dairy checkoff program, State Departments of Agriculture, and other sources, in addition to data collected on the quarterly Milk Production Survey, to estimate milk production, milk produced per cow, and milk cow inventory.


NASS publishes a Milk Production report each month with total monthly milk production, milk produced per cow during the month, and average number of milk cows in the herd during the month for each of the 23 major milk producing States. U.S. level data are also estimated and published monthly. Each quarter, the Milk Production report includes quarterly production and inventory information by state for all states. The February report contains the previous year's annual totals. All reports are released around the middle of each month.

The number of dairy operations, percent of milk cow inventory, and percent of milk production by herd size are reported in the Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations release in February.

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Program Content

The quarterly Milk Production surveys collect information on the (1) number of cows milked the first day of the month, (2) number of all milk cows in the herd the first day of the month, and (3) total milk produced the first day of the month. Information on milk cow replacement prices are collected each quarter. In April and October, producers provide information on the amount of milk used on the farm for food or drink and the amount fed to calves.



Statistics on milk production are used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to carry out the National Dairy Support Program. In addition, the statistics are used extensively by the dairy industry in planning, pricing, and projecting supplies of milk and milk products. Dairy producers also utilize the reports to determine production and marketing strategies.



The quarterly Milk Production survey is conducted in January, April, July, and October. The Milk Production report is published monthly. In the months when the survey is conducted, administrative data are utilized in addition to survey data to estimate milk production, milk produced per cow, and milk cow inventory. In the months when the survey is not conducted, only administrative data are used.



The Milk Production survey is primarily a mail survey. Questionnaires are mailed to a sample of dairy producers about the 24th of the month. States conduct a nonresponse telephone follow-up to ensure sufficient data are obtained.

Phone enumerators utilize Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI), a sophisticated software which allows them to enter reported data directly into an electronic format. The software performs simple consistency checks as well as checks against previously reported data, which reduces the need for follow-up contacts with the respondent.

Milk cow estimates from the Cattle Inventory surveys provide an independent check against the Milk Production survey data.


Related Programs

Milk Prices, All
Milk Production, Disposition and Income
Monthly Dairy Products
Cattle Inventory
Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations



Last modified: 09/04/2013