In 2015, Michigan started moving up in the ranks to become the sixth largest milk production state in the nation. State farmers in 2014 produced more than 9.6 billion pounds of milk, or in excess of 1.1 billion gallons. Growth continued into 2015 with a 7.2 percent increase mid-year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Milk Production Report.
Managing Milk’s Growth
Michigan possesses the assets to encourage growth in milk production: a reasonable regulatory environment, proximity to large populations, access to feed and the benefit of family farms with generations of experience. Kevin and Reggie Newland run such a farm in Belding. Kevin is the third generation to operate Newland Farms, which milks about 400 cows twice daily. Reggie, too, is from a dairy family. Her father is a member of the board of the Dairy Farmers of America. “It’s a great way to raise a family,” Reggie says. “Our kids are learning the value of hard work and what it means to produce a product consumed by our family, friends and neighbors.”
Dairy represents the top-ranking segment of the state’s food and agriculture industry, contributing around 20 percent of Michigan’s cash receipts. The dairy industry generates an economic impact of $14.7 billion in the state, Nobis says. In Coopersville, fairlife® is among five new or expanded dairy facilities that got up and running between 2011 and 2014, according to MDARD. Operating in a former General Motors plant, fairlife® has been creating nutrient-rich ultra- filtered milk products using 1.5 million pounds of milk each day from local member farms since late 2013. “Michigan has been a terrific state to do business in,” says Anders Porter, director of communications for fairlife®. “There is a very progressive approach to attract and bring new businesses to the state.”