This page provides information concerning periodic, scheduled USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) outputs on dairy and recent ERS reports related to dairy.

Milk is produced in all 50 States, with the highest producing States in the western and northern areas of the United States. Dairy farms—largely family owned and managed—are generally members of producer cooperatives. Over years, the industry has seen a consistent decline in the number of operations matched by a rise in the number of cows per operation. Dairy products include fluid beverage milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, dry milk products, condensed milk, and whey products. For more U.S. dairy-related information, see Background, Market Outlook, Trade, Policy, and Readings.

ERS provides data and reports on dairy markets, including domestic and international supply, demand, trade, and prices. 

Periodic, Scheduled Outputs Relating to Dairy

  • Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook (LDP) is a monthly report that provides supply and use projections for U.S. livestock, dairy, and poultry markets based on USDA, World Agricultural Outlook Board’s most current World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report.
  • Dairy Data is a dataset that includes files covering domestic supply, demand, and trade of various dairy products. Data on the U.S. dairy situation and commercial disappearance are updated monthly, and U.S. milk production and related data are updated quarterly. All other data files are updated annually. These include data on dairy per capita consumption; fluid milk sales; milk supply by State and region; milk production and factors affecting supply and utilization of milk in all dairy products; and numbers and size of milk bottling plants.
  • WASDE at a Glance is a monthly interactive visualization that provides key data and highlights from the most current WASDE report on livestock and dairy as well as field crops.
  • Commodity Costs and Returns is a data product that provides annual estimates of production costs and returns for major field crops, milk, hogs, and cow-calf operations.
  • Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer is a data product that compares prices paid by consumers for food with prices received by farmers for corresponding commodities.

Recent ERS Reports Relating to Dairy 

In addition to the periodic Outlook reports and data products, ERS produces reports covering timely issues important to dairy markets across the United States and world.

Recent ERS publications relating to the dairy sector include:

  • Documentation for the USDA, Economic Research Service Annual U.S. Dairy Sector Econometric Model This report provides documentation for the Annual U.S. Dairy Sector Model used by the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS). Using econometric estimation, this dynamic model provides projections for supply, demand, and prices for U.S. milk and dairy products over a 10-year period. The model provides support for U.S. dairy projections (baseline projections) published in the USDA Agricultural Projections report each year. The model is also used to provide scenario analyses related to market conditions and various Federal Government policies (TB-1961, July 2023).
  • “Fluid Milk Consumption Continues Downward Trend, Proving Difficult to Reverse” U.S. per capita fluid milk consumption has been trending downward for more than 70 years and fell at a faster rate during the 2010s than in each of the previous six decades. From 2003 to 2018, U.S. consumers of all ages drank less milk as a beverage, the primary way in which fluid milk is consumed. Plant-based milk alternatives explain only a small portion of the decline in U.S. fluid milk consumption (Amber Waves, June 2022).
  • Sources, Trends, and Drivers of U.S. Dairy Productivity and Efficiency The U.S. dairy sector has undergone substantial structural change characterized by a shift to larger and fewer dairy operations, concentrated in relatively few States. This report measures and analyzes the dairy sector’s productivity growth and efficiency and identifies proximate drivers and sources of this growth in the face of the structural change observed from 2000 to 2020 (ERR-305, February 2022).
  • Examining the Decline in U.S. Per Capita Consumption of Fluid Cow’s Milk, 2003–18 U.S. per capital fluid milk is declining. USDA, ERS researchers examined how consumption among children, teenagers, and adults changed over the years 2003 through 2018, including changes in the amounts of milk that each group consumed as a beverage, added to cereal, and added to other types of beverages like coffee and tea (ERR-300, October 2021).
  • "Farm Milk Components and Their Use Among Dairy Products Have Shifted Over Time" Data from the USDA, Economic Research Service show that changes in consumption patterns among dairy products from 2000 to 2019 influenced the percentages of milk fat and skim solids of the largest two product categories, fluid beverage milk and cheese (Amber Waves, August 2021).

For more ERS publications on dairy see Readings.