The New Nanny State
Pamela Accetta Smith
Senior Editor
(847) 405-4069

Wisconsin is seeking to redefine its dairy image. As it turns out, the state is quite aggressive in its pursuit of recruiting farmers interested in raising goats; existing goat farmers are expanding their herds and some dairy cow farmers are even to switching to goat herding, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
A major new goat cheese plant opening this summer in Lancaster, Wis., is behind the buzz of this burgeoning activity. Canada’s largest maker of goat cheese, Woolwich Dairy, is building its U.S. headquarters, and first plant in the States, in southwestern Wisconsin.
State cheesemakers looking to capitalize on gourmet food trends also are raising the demand for goat’s milk, says the Dairy Business Innovation Center, an organization that helps specialty dairy businesses.
Goat cheese is also growing in popularity because of its unique flavor profile, and because consumers with a dairy intolerance may more easily digest goat’s milk.
A promising new dairy goat niche could bolster the image of America’s Dairyland, as the state is losing 30 dairy cow herds per month and anticipates losing its coveted cheese production crown to California as early as next year, the JS reports.
According to stats, Wisconsin already is the nation’s top producer of goat cheese. More than a dozen cheesemakers specialize in goat cheese, and another half dozen craft farmstead goat cheeses on farms where the animals are raised.
The Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service says the state now has 14,521 dairy cow herds and 165 dairy goat herds, noting that goat farmers have ambitious plans to increase their milk production and herd sizes over the next five years.
Wisconsin’s 165 milking goat herds produced 27.6 million pounds of milk over the past year. Gallon for gallon, goat’s milk brings about twice as much money as cow’s milk, reputedly because it is used for gourmet cheeses that sell for around $13 to $24 per pound.
It appears that goats are turning out to be more profitable, easier to raise and, according to some farmers, a lot more fun.
Fun?
Now that I’d like to see.