Dairy farming is an agricultural business which is engaged in the long-term milk production within the dairy industry. It is a large contributor to the overall economy in many states. California, Wisconsin, New York, Idaho and Pennsylvania had the highest milk supply in 2016. The Badger State Wisconsin is also known as ‘Americas Dairyland’. The slogan is even engraved on its license plate.
The number of U.S. dairy farms has sharply decreased in the last decades, while dairy operations have ever-larger numbers of cows concentrated on a single farm. These extensive dairy farming conditions with a large herd size and a high milk output are seen as a profitable way for the milk industry in order to provide milk at relatively low cost for the consumer. Due to its high milk volume, the main cow used for milk production is the Holstein-Friesian. However, with this intensification of milking cows there comes a corresponding concentration of manure production which causes problems and challenges for the environment such as the risk of elevated nitrogen levels or contaminated ground water.
Due to these environmental impacts, many dairy operations in Wisconsin are now facing opposition regarding plans to expand their dairy herds.