Missouri Dairy industry snapshot

Missouri's State Ranking

Number of cows: 24th

Total milk production: 26th

Milk production per cow: 46th

Dairy cows are located throughout Missouri. However, the Missouri milk cow population tends to concentrate in the state's southwest and south central regions. In 2021, the Missouri counties with the largest dairy cow inventories were Barry, Wright, Vernon, Lawrence and Scotland counties, though some counties were not reported by USDA to avoid disclosing data for individual operations.

Map showing milk cow inventory by Missouri county as of Jan 1, 2021. Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Milk Cows, Missouri
Line graph showing the number of milk cows in Missouri from 2000 to 2020. In 2000, Missouri had 154,000 dairy cows. Over time, the trend has been a decrease most years. In 2020, Missouri had 76,000 dairy cows.

Line graph showing the number of milk cows in Missouri from 2000 to 2020. In 2000, Missouri had 154,000 dairy cows. Over time, the trend has been a decrease most years. By 2020, Missouri had 76,000 dairy cows. Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Milk Cows, Missouri & Surrounding States
Line graph showing the number of milk cows in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee from 2000 to 2020. Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee have reduced their dairy cow inventories over the past two decades. Iowa has stayed stable in dairy cow numbers. Kansas has experienced growth over the past ten years.

Line graph showing the number of milk cows in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee from 2000 to 2020. Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee have reduced their dairy cow inventories over the past two decades. Iowa has stayed stable in dairy cow numbers. Kansas has experienced growth over the past ten years. Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Number of Commercial Dairy Operations in Missouri
Bar chart showing number of Grade A and manufacturing grade dairies in Missouri from 2000 to 2020. The number of Missouri’s dairy farms are declining slowly. In December 2000, Missouri has 2,291 permitted dairy farms. By December 2020, 684 permitted dairy farms operated in Missouri. Of these, 499 were Grade A farms, and 185 were manufacturing-grade farms.

Bar chart showing number of Grade A and manufacturing grade dairies in Missouri from 2000 to 2020. The number of Missouri's dairy farms are declining slowly. In December 2000, Missouri has 2,291 permitted dairy farms. By December 2020, 684 permitted dairy farms operated in Missouri. Of these, 499 were Grade A farms, and 185 were manufacturing-grade farms.

Missouri Dairy Cash Receipts
Line graph showing dollars for Missouri in milk cash receipts from 2000 to 2019. The dairy industry is an important contributor to Missouri's economy. In 2000, Missouri had $269 million in milk cash receipts. Receipts ranged from $337 million to $198 million over the time period. Missouri’s dairy industry generated $205 million in milk cash receipts in 2019.

Line graph showing dollars for Missouri in milk cash receipts from 2000 to 2019. In 2000, Missouri had $269 million in milk cash receipts. Receipts ranged from $337 million to $198 million over the time period. Missouri’s dairy industry generated $205 million in milk cash receipts in 2019. Data source: USDA Economic Research Service.

Milk Production per Cow
Line graph showing milk production per cow for Missouri from 2000 to 2020. Production per cow ranged from 13,441 to 16,026 pounds over the time period. Missouri's milk production per cow tends to be low when compared to other U.S. states. An average U.S. dairy cow produced 23,777 pounds in 2020 as compared to Missouri's average of 14,276 pounds. A common explanation for this deviation is the state's reliance upon pasture-based dairy systems rather than confinement systems.

Line graph showing milk production per cow for Missouri from 2000 to 2020. Missouri averaged 14,276 pounds per cow in 2020. Production per cow ranged from 16,026 to 13,441 pounds over the time period. Missouri’s milk production per cow has varied tremendously, due to a surge in low-input rotational grazing dairying since the year 2005. Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Milk Production per Cow, Missouri and Surrounding States
Line graph showing the milk production (pounds) per cow in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee from 2000 to 2020. U.S. average, Iowa, Kansas and Illinois are the highest among selected states and have steadily grown over time. Kentucky has grown considerably since 2013 and sits in the middle range along with Tennessee. Arkansas has mostly remained the lowest over the time period, below Missouri’s average.

Line graph showing the milk production (pounds) per cow in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee from 2000 to 2020. Missouri’s milk production per cow tends to be low when compared to the U.S. states. The U.S. average, Iowa, Kansas and Illinois are the highest among selected states and have steadily grown over time. Kentucky has grown considerably since 2013 and sits in the middle range along with Tennessee. Arkansas has mostly remained the lowest over the time period, below Missouri’s average. Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.