A 2012 report from Iowa State University shows that Iowa’s dairy industry is already a strong economic driver in Iowa and the Midwest.  What is the trend in demand for dairy products? Up. And dairy businesses are responding. Iowa among all Midwest states is the only one to grow for two decades and counting, and it is poised for continual growth.


Why Iowa? Iowa has tremendous water resources, people resources, feed resources, transportation infrastructure, dairy heritage and consistent top markets; describing a place with a competitive advantage in all the main categories.  Iowa is a place with always competitive costs and high prices for milk as shown in the graphs within this report.  Iowa has all the comparative advantages which drive naturally to competitive business advantages for dairy industry stakeholders operating here.


Dairy cows and the economic activity that they generate in the local economy have always and continue to be one of the most robust economic stimuli that exist. Here are a few statistics from the report:

  • $23,445 is the total economic impact per cow through direct/indirect and induced commerce.

  • Each cow generates the equivalent of .1 full-time job created throughout the entire dairy and processing sectors.

  • Over 22,000 jobs are supported by the activities directly, indirectly and induced by a strong dairy presence.

Source:  “Iowa’s Dairy Industry:  An Economic Review,” February 2012



    • 12th in total pounds of milk produced

    • 12th in milk cow numbers

    • 12th in production per cow

    • 9th in fluid milk bottling

    • 8th in total dairy products processed

    • 7th in number of dairy herds

    • 7th in cheese production

    • 6th in cottage cheese production

    • 6th in production of American cheese

    • 4th in ice cream production


    • 4.34 BILLION: pounds of milk produced (2010)*

    • 240 million: pounds of cheese produced (2010)*

    • 1,922: number of dairy farms (2010) **

    • 209,000: milk cows in production (2010)*

    • 20,751: average pounds of milk produced per cow (2010)*

    • 214: number of dairy goat farms (2010)**

    • 31,000: dairy goats in production (2010)**

    • 26,000+: number of jobs provided by dairy industry–including jobs on dairy farms, by dairy processors and other services that benefit and aid the dairy industry

    • $1.5 billion+: amount contributed annually to the economy from the dairy industry


Des Moines, Iowa, is the #1 large city per capita in the consumption of milk! (University of Illinois Extension, 2005)


Updated June 2011