Number of North Dakota Dairy Farms Drops 75 Percent

The state’s farms are struggling to stay afloat amidst reduced dairy consumption.


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The number of dairy farms operating in the state of North Dakota has seen a drastic decline in the last 15 years. While the state housed 350 dairy farms in 2002, according to local news outlet The Bismarck Tribune, it currently has only 86 such facilities. The drop is a result of an overall decreased consumption of animal-derived milk—which the United States Department of Agriculture estimates has fallen about 25 percent per capita since 1970—combined with an increased preference for plant-based milk. Dairy farmers in both North and South Dakota are planning to band together to figure out a solution to stay afloat. “We need to find what’s that niche for us,” local farmer Jerry Messer said. Many California farmers have found it profitable to shift from dairy production to growing almond groves for use in plant-based milk, a swap that has reduced the number of cows in the state by 10,000. The state of New Hampshire is experiencing a similar situation, shutting down 19 dairy farms in 2016 alone.