The Real Dairy State Of The US Might Surprise You

There is a lot of production that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to our food — especially dairy products. But if you thought you knew which US state produces the largest amount of dairy, and assumed it was in the Midwest, guess again.

While Wisconsin if often thought to be the epicenter and is even nicknamed "America's Dairyland," it's actually California that has been the country's leading milk producer for more than 20 years. That's right, the state gives us more bounty than just wine! Wisconsin is still the number-one maker of cheese, but according to Taste of Home, California holds the title for the largest producer of the most butter, ice cream, and nonfat dry milk (and takes second place for cheese and yogurt).

In fact, since 1993, California has surpassed Wisconsin and accounts for 18.5% of the United States' milk supply with 39.8 billion pounds produced here every year. The California Dairy Press Room also estimates that milk production per cow has increased 55.1% since 1986. While the West Coast state may conjure images of hot beaches and blistering sun, there is also a flourishing green side of California where these farms live and thrive.

This is how much California impacts the US dairy industry

While SoCal is pretty hot and dusty, the northern side of the state has a copious amount of green pastures, especially in Sonoma County. Central California is also utilized and is considered the most agricultural portion of the state, says Taste of Home. This area is more suitable for crops such as cotton, nuts, and berries, and is home to a good number of cows that enrich our national milk supply.

So much so that the state of California is responsible for around 33% of the total United States export of dairy products. The dairy industry has become so prominent in California that it is a major key to the economy of the state as well. According to See California, these milk products are mostly produced by family-owned farms totaling more than 1,200 plots says Taste of Home that have created more than 440,000 jobs generating $63 billion for the state.

And if you love July for being National Ice Cream month, you also have California to thank as it's the number-one producer of ice cream with more than 105 million gallons made annually, according to The California Dairy Press Room. Now that's something serious scoop!