U.S. dairy exports grew 14 percent in 2017 to $5.48 billion, boosting the outlook for Idaho’s dairy industry, the state’s economy and farm families throughout the state.
That’s according to Dairy West, formerly United Dairymen of Idaho, which put out a press release on Idaho export opportunities on Monday.
“The U.S. dairy industry, in places like Idaho in particular, has a great opportunity to supply an increasing proportion of the growing global demand for dairy products,” Daragh Maccabee, CEO of Idaho Milk Products, stated in the press release.
“Supported by common-sense trade policy, we can continue to see the immense benefits of dairy exports for our state and the U.S. as a whole,” he said.
Idaho vies with New York in the rankings for the third-largest producer of milk in the U.S., and dairy is the state’s leading agricultural sector. In 2017, the state’s 490 dairies — all family owned — produced 14.6 billion pounds of milk.
Only California and Wisconsin consistently surpass Idaho in milk production.
While Idaho only gets a small piece of the national dairy export pie — 6.9 percent — its share has grown from about 5 percent in 2014 and contributes significantly to the state’s bottom line, Karianne Fallow, Dairy West CEO, said in the press release.
Idaho’s $336 million in dairy exports in 2016 generated more than $735 million in economic activity in the state. Dairy exports also created 4,185 Idaho jobs in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.
“Idaho’s dairy farmers not only feed families here in Idaho, they help feed the world,” Fallow said.
“As Idaho looks to grow demand for our dairy foods, exports will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role,” she said.
Maccabee said the 2017 export numbers are very encouraging.
“However, continued focus on growing exports across the full dairy portfolio is a critical factor in underpinning long-term, sustainable growth for processors and producers alike,” he said.
The industry needs to support positive trade relationships with key partner countries, he said.
“In Idaho, the dairy community understands the importance of moving product beyond its borders,” he said.
The recent uptick in U.S. dairy exports is the largest in three years, and exporters enjoyed gains across most major markets in 2017, USDEC reported.