New Jersey’s dairy farms are a classic example of how the state’s agriculture has transitioned over the decades, with one sector being in the lead for many years, then dropping back as another moves to the forefront, largely based on market conditions.
At its height in the 1960s, New Jersey’s dairy sector boasted upwards of 3,500 dairy farms.
While the number of dairy farms and cows has decreased, New Jersey’s dairy industry as a whole remains vibrant, with four major processing plants and numerous smaller ones employing approximately 3,000 people statewide. With an immense marketplace of nine million residents in the state, and millions more across the borders in Philadelphia and New York, New Jersey’s dairy processors find no shortage of customers.
Today, the more successful dairy farms are those that have found a niche in the marketplace. Among the most successful are those that produce their own artisan cheeses and other “value-added” products on the farm or in conjunction with nearby cheesemakers or food processors.
Other dairy farmers have capitalized on the desire of everyday people to see how a farm operates and enhance their incomes through agritourism.
Barns full of docile cows and milking parlors with their fascinating equipment provide the perfect visual backdrop for adults and children alike to learn about farm life.
The sight of a dairy herd grazing in a farm pasture is one of the hundreds of enjoyable aspects of the Garden State’s agricultural diversity.