Woman buying milk.
May 21, 2018

New Web-Based Tool Illustrates Dairy’s Economic Impact

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

A new, web-based tool developed by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) illustrates the dairy industry’s economic impact, from “grass to glass,” broken down by state and even Congressional District.


In total, the U.S. dairy industry employs nearly 3 million and pays wages of almost $40 billion annually. The total economic impact of the industry is some $628 billion, representing just over 1% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).


“With the Trump Administration’s focus on global trade, it’s important for consumers and policy makers to understand how dairy drives the American economy,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA. “The United States needs sound trade policy that will place the U.S. dairy industry on a level playing field with global competitors. Backed by fair and proactive trade policies, the U.S. dairy industry will continue to keep and create jobs in states across the country.”


The new tool, gotdairyjobs.org, further breaks down this impact state-by-state, and goes even further to demonstrate the number of jobs supported in each U.S. House Congressional district.


In Wisconsin, for example, the state’s dairy industry’s total economic impact is $62 billion, representing 7.5% of Wisconsin’s GDP. Wisconsin employs more than 41,000 people directly in the dairy industry, and pays over $2 billion in wages to those workers. In House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Congressional District, the dairy industry has 1,953 direct jobs, pays $52.5 million in wages, and contributes $144 million in economic impact.


A driving force of the new site is to illustrate how important continued growth in exports is to the dairy industry, and how that growth will continue to expand and generate well-paying jobs throughout the country. Growing U.S. dairy exports from its current level of 15% of milk solids to 20% over the next several years will contribute several billion dollars to the bottom lines of dairy farmers, says Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.


Current trends are in the right direction. Last month, the U.S. exported a record 16% of its milk solids and imports decreased. “The spread between exports and imports is the largest on record as well,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. This growth is contributing to recovering milk prices, he says.  


The GotDairyJobs.org site will also offer monthly features, videos and facts that demonstrate dairy’s continued impact on jobs, tax revenue and communities around the country.