Back 1 of 17 Next


The Dairy State

Stacking cheese in a cheese factory.

Stacking Cheese in a Cheese Factory, 1952

Wisconsin. WHI (X3) 51151

Between 1870 and 1900, dairying rose to a prominent place in Wisconsin agriculture, thanks to promotion, marketing, research, education, and scientific advances in feed, breeding, medicine, testing, and processing conducted by organizations such as the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association and the University of Wisconsin. By World War I, Wisconsin ranked first in the nation in dairy production.

The state remained an industry leader throughout the 1900s. The Wisconsin Legislature promoted this reputation by placing the slogan, "America's Dairyland," on automobile license plates starting in 1940. By the 21st century, Wisconsin lagged behind California in overall dairy production, but in 2012 Wisconsin produced more than a quarter of America’s cheese, ranking first among the states in cheese output. The World Dairy Expo in Madison annually attracts over 70,000 visitors from around the world to learn the latest developments in the industry.