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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Ag 101
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Dairy Production

Dairy production is an important part of American agriculture. Milk and other dairy products remain a staple in the diets of most Americans. In 2000, there were about 90,000 dairy farms in the United States. During the 1980s and 1990s, dairy production markedly shifted from the Midwest and Great Lakes regions to the West.

Modern dairy production is diverse with systems ranging from cows housed indoors year-round to cows maintained on pasture nearly year-round. Expansion to larger herd sizes has allowed producers to increase the efficiency of production and capitalize on economies of scale, but it has resulted in environmental challenges with larger numbers of cattle and more manure concentrated in smaller areas.

This module will look at dairy production as it has evolved in the U.S., the array of dairy products available, dairy production systems, milking systems, and typical manure handling systems in use today.


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