More cheese, please

South Dakota State Roundup

Published September 1, 2005  | September 2005 issue

South Dakota's dairy industry is getting back on its feet, but is still working to get back to previous levels.

Last year, South Dakota was the only state in the Midwest to see an increase in milk production, coming in at about 1.35 billion pounds. Production for the first half of this year is also up better than 6 percent. Still, 15 years ago, annual production was 1.7 billion pounds, and the total herd was some 80 percent larger.

Maybe more noteworthy is the fact that dairy productivity has been ramping up considerably in the state. Since 1990, average output per cow has jumped 36 percent to almost 17,000 pounds. But even here the state is still playing catch-up, in this case with its Midwestern neighbors, where average milk production per cow is closer to 18,000 pounds in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Ronald A. Wirtz