California Milk, Dairy, Cheese, Ice Cream Facts

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California has been the top dairy producer in the United States since 1993. So much for those dairy taxes and the hard-fought effort to keep Wisconsin (The Dairy State) from losing its position as Number 1. Dairy production is so important to California, it has become the top agricultural product(s) and is key to the California economy. The majority of farms focused on dairy cattle are family owned businesses as opposed to multi-national conglomerates. Dairy, cheese, yogurt, milk and butter, ice cream and butter are all part of this big dairy picture in California.

The history of cattle and dairy products in California goes back hundreds of years, but the first notable distinction came around 1857.

California is credited with possibly having the first commercial dairy in the nation in Point Reyes (Marin County) around 1857. Among the timeline of the milk industry in California, cheese has provided an important role in its growth.

California milk & milk products in mostly family owned farms (99%) help create over 440,000 jobs and generate $63 billion in economic activity for California. (California Milk Advisory Board)

California has been the nation's leading dairy state since 1993, when it surpassed Wisconsin in milk production. California is ranked first in the U.S. in the production of total milk, butter, ice cream, yogurt, nonfat dry milk, and whey protein concentrate. California is second in cheese production. (CDFA)

California is the number-one producer of ice cream in the U.S. The average American eats 25 pints of ice cream annually, and it takes approx. 12 pounds of whole milk to produce one gallon of ice cream, California produces over 133 million gallons of ice cream annually. July is National Ice Cream month.

California leads the nation in total milk production. In 2008, California produced a record 41.2 billion pounds of milk – more than one-fifth of the nation's total production.

Dairy farming is a leading agricultural commodity in California, producing $4.5 billion in annual sales in recent years (CDFA)

Approximately forty percent of all of California milk goes to make California cheese. (CDFA)

Currently there are 1,750 California dairy farms that house 1.79 million milk cows. Approximately one out of every five dairy cows in the U.S. lives in California.

The average California dairy cow produced 22,000 pounds of milk in a recent year.

Recently approx. 35 percent of the total U.S. exports of dairy products are coming from California.

California's dairy business generated $63 billion in economic activity and 443,574 full-time jobs in California in 2008.

California's milk standards exceed federal standards because California processors add nonfat milk solids which offer improved taste and nutritional benefits. California milks exceed the federal guidelines for the amounts of calcium and protein in each serving.

Real California Milk can be found at Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Walgreens, Target, 7-Eleven, Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, Stater Bros., Food 4 Less, Superior Grocers, Lucky, Longs Drugs, Nugget and O'Brien's.

* The creation in 1857 of what was one of the first commercial dairies in the United States.
* The emergence of Point Reyes in the 1860s as the leading dairy region in the country as its dairies supplied San Francisco's booming Gold Rush population with fresh dairy products.
* What was perhaps the industry's first branding of a product in 1880, when a dairy in Point Reyes trademarked and stamped its butter to fight counterfeited imitations being sold.
* The commercialization in the 1880s of a popular local cheese that became known as Monterey Jack. Many experts consider it the most important cheese created in the U.S.

*All data provided by the California Milk Advisory Board, except as noted.

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