Despite difficult markets and economy, Nebraska’s dairy industry grows

LINCOLN, NE — (June 21, 2010) The Nebraska dairy industry produced more than 1.2 billion pounds of milk last year, an increase over the previous year, the Nebraska Corn Board noted in reviewing annual statistics from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

“The number of dairy cows in Nebraska totaled some 61,000 head, which is an increase over the prior year. Growth in the dairy industry is something few states can show, as the dairy markets struggled nationally and many states saw their cow herd numbers decline,” said Kelsey Pope, ag promotion coordinator with the Nebraska Corn Board. “We’re fortunate to have gained cows, as dairy farms provide a number of good jobs and gives a boost to the local economy. With June being Dairy Month, this is something to celebrate – perhaps with a tall glass of milk.”

Dennis Gengenbach, a farmer from Smithfield and member of the Nebraska Corn Board, noted that there is a tremendous synergy between the dairy industry and corn and related co-products.

“Dairy cattle consume a lot of feed, and corn and distillers grains are part of their ration, along with many other locally-produced feedstuffs, including a great number of forages,” Gengenbach said. “Distillers grains, particularly, are a good ingredient for dairy cattle, and we can thank the ethanol industry for that, as distillers grains are produced by corn ethanol plants.”

He explained that ethanol plants only use the starch portion of the kernel, returning the other components to the livestock industries as a high protein feed ingredient.

Pope said the Nebraska Corn Board has a publication available to help dairy producers utilize corn co-products like distillers grains. The Utilization of Corn Co-Products in the Dairy Industry is available by contacting the board or by downloading it at A publication for beef cattle is also available, although Pope noted that an updated version for beef cattle will be available soon, as will a new manual for forage-fed cattle.

“The state’s dairy receipts totaled about $172 million last year, but the sector’s total impact is considerably higher because so many dollars circulate several times through the local economy,” Pope said. “Everything from a strong tax base, to feed, veterinary care, equipment, trucking, milk processing and more, a strong dairy sector is good for the state.”

The Nebraska Corn Board is a self-help program, funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest in the program at a rate of 1/4 of a cent per bushel of corn sold. Nebraska corn checkoff funds are invested in programs of market development, research and education. For more, go to or



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