Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Estimate Of The Size Of The US Raw Milk Community

How large is the raw milk community in the US? Below are some rough calculations. I estimated it comprises less than 2 tenths of one percent (0.17%) of the US population. That is, about 99% of milk sold in the US is probably pasteurized.

Below are the 2008 survey results from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). (You can click the chart excerpt to the right to see all 50 states.)

Press Release (doc)
Spreadsheet (xls)

According to NASDA, of the 50 states surveyed:
  • 29 states authorize the legal sale of raw milk, in some specified manner.
  • 21 states prohibit the sale of raw milk to consumers.
Below are the states that permit the sale of raw milk for human consumption. (First parentheses is the number of legal raw milk producers in that state in 2008. Second parentheses is my estimate for the number of raw milk animals. See Note below for substantiation.)

Arizona (2) (100)
Arkansas (Goat only, 21 goat dairies) (1050 goats)
California (2) (100)
Colorado (Shares only, 26 shares) (1300)
Connecticut (16) (800)
Idaho (0) (0)
Illinois (?) (189)
Kansas (?) (50)
Kentucky (0) (0)
Maine (18) (809)
Massachusetts (23) (70)
Minnesota (0) (0)
Mississippi (Goat only) (?) (50)
Missouri (0) (0)
Nebraska (15) (180)
Nevada (?) (50)
New Hampshire (8) (100)
New Mexico (1) (50)
New York (21) (1050)
Oklahoma (1) (50)
Oregon (0) (0)
Pennsylvania (87) (2322)
Rhode Island (0) (0)
South Carolina (14) (700)
South Dakota (0) (0)
Texas (20) (1000)
Utah (4) (16)
Vermont (?) (2452)
Washington (22) (1100)
Wisconsin (0) (0)

That worked out to 13,588 raw milk cows and goats in the US in 2008. (That compares to 9,266,574 total milk cows in 2007, mostly factory farmed.)

If you can milk 2000 gallons per cow (and I'll assume, conservatively, goat) per year, that works out to 2000 x 13,588 = 27,176,000 gallons raw milk in 2008.

If a person consumed the equivalent of 1 gallon of raw milk in milk/kefir/buttermilk/yogurt/cheese/cream/butter in a week, that's 52 gallons/person/year. About 522,615 people would have consumed the 27,176,000 gallons in the year 2008.

If the US population in 2008 was 301,621,157, that means that only 0.17% of the US population consumed raw milk in 2008.

These are very rough numbers. It's difficult to account for what people do with their own milk-producing animals. Even if I'm off by a factor of ten, 10 x 0.17% is still less than 2% of the entire US population. The raw milk community in this country is very small indeed.

* Note: My estimate for the number of raw milk animals: I assumed 50 animals per raw milk producer, but not more than 20% of organic milk cows for that state, assuming the rest goes to commercial pasteurized organic sales. The USDA lists organic milk cows per state.1 If number of producers was unknown, I used 20% of organic milk cows for that state. If number of producers was unknown and number of organic milk cows was unknown, I used 50.
1USDA Economic Research Service, Organic Production, 2008 (Table 5.)

I used Google Docs' free spreadsheet application to run some of these numbers. I cut and paste from the linked Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and inserted my own formulas. It was all compatible. Have to say, Google impressed me again.


Bill Marler said...

Great job. Interesting analysis. I should have come here first before hiring a law student to find the same. Email me if you want those results too. Also, see for our work on trying to put raw milk in perspective.

Bix said...

Just checked your site. You refer to Headricks et al from 1997:

The Epidemiology of Raw Milk-Associated Foodborne Disease Outbreaks Reported in the United States, 1973 Through 1992

Who found:

"we found that raw milk accounted for less than 1% of total milk sold in states that permit the sale of raw milk."

Reassuring that I was in the ballpark.