The dairy industry in Kansas is poised for growth and the state offers many of the top things that dairies seeking to move to new locales are looking for, industry members were told at a Kansas Diary Association/Kansas State University Dairy Symposium on Oct. 23 in Manhattan.
Mike Brouk, Kansas State University professor and extension specialist, told the group that Kansas is in a good place in terms of the U.S. dairy industry.
A huge increase in dairy cattle
"We have seen a 60% increase in dairy cattle since 1996, milk production has more than doubled and we have seen a 48% increase in production per cow in Kansas," Brouk said. Kansas is second in the U.S. in production increases, behind only Texas and ranks 16th in the country in total milk production.
The biggest growth in the Kansas dairy industry has occurred in western Kansas where the large-scale thousands-of-cows dairies have grown over the last decade. But there has also been slow growth in the traditional Kansas dairy areas of Nemaha County and Sedgwick County, where small dairies have seen incremental increases in size.
One of the things holding back greater growth, Brouk said, is a "chicken or egg" situation over the existence of processing plants.
Kansas has seen the addition of a cheese plant in Hugoton in the last year and has cheese-making operations in the northeast part of the state at Wiebe Farms near Abilene and Alma Cheese at Alma. There are also two large milk processing plants, Hiland Dairy in Wichita and Jackson Dairy in Hutchinson. Smaller bottlers include Hildebrand Dairy near Junction City, Emrich Creamery at Onaga and Iwig Dairy at Tecumseh.