Historic is the best adjective to describe this issue. It’s been 20 years since Progressive Dairyman first landed in a dairy producer’s mailbox. In this issue, we take a look back at how Progressive Dairyman publisher Leon Leavitt got the magazine started. On page 36, readers will find Leon’s personal commentary about the growth of the magazine. We’ve also included comments about the magazine’s most memorable articles. It’s a section both new and old readers are sure to enjoy.
The dairy industry has changed significantly since 1987. Back then, the average herd size was 45 cows. Now the average herd is 147 cows, an increase of more than 200 percent. Cows in 1987 produced on average 13,819 pounds of milk each year. Now cows are producing 19,951 pounds per year, a 44 percent increase.
Larger farms and more milk production mean many producers have left the industry in the last 20 years – both by choice and force. Yet today’s dairy producers can claim they helped contribute to the nation’s largest total milk production ever in 2006. Unfortunately, however, those type of records also usually mean near-record low milk prices, which producers saw in 2006.
This issue contains one free copy of a pull-out poster detailing every state’s ranking and totals in 2006 for total milk production, change in milk production from 2005, number of cows, milk pounds per cow, number of licensed herds and average herd size. We believe it is a valuable tool. I’m sure you’ll have fun comparing your state to others throughout the nation.
As we commemorate Progressive Dairyman’s early beginnings, we recognize part of the magazine’s success can be attributed to the growth of the dairy industry in our home state of Idaho.
In 1987, Idaho was the nation’s 14th highest milk-producing state. Last year, Idaho became the nation’s fourth highest milk-producing state. Our staff wishes to congratulate Idaho dairy producers for their ingenuity and expansion success over the last two decades.
Putting together the state rankings for each of the dairy industry categories listed in the pull-out poster made this spring feel a lot more like October. The giddiness I felt when I saw Idaho move up a spot in national milk production felt a lot like the excitement I feel when my favorite college football team moves up the Associated Press poll. If all producers voted state-by-state on dairy industry loyalty, I’m curious how the top 15 dairy states would rank.
This month’s online poll asks readers their opinion about what milk production will look like next year. With many unknown variables, such as feed prices, and a recently announced CWT buyout (see page 4), there’s plenty of producers and others who are watching the industry and speculating whether producers will again match record-setting milk production output. Can U.S. total milk production exceed last year’s historic level? Is it time to celebrate or mourn? PD
PD Editor, Walt Cooley