Dairy Drives Decline in State Agriculture Exports

Wisconsin saw a 0.68 percent decrease in the value of its international exports of agriculture products between 2015 and 2016. Although this change is small, the bulk of it comes from a 9.51 percent decrease in dairy, eggs and honey during the same time period.

Wisconsin ranks 12th in agricultural exports in the United States. While most of the nation’s exports go to China (behind the European Union), Canada is the biggest consumer of Wisconsin agriculture, buying $1.4 billion worth of our products.

The decreases seen in exports are measured in value, not the amount of the product. While Wisconsin is increasing its production of dairy, prices are still at decade lows, although they have seen a turnaround in the past few months.

Dairy prices decreased about six percent between 2015 and 2016, so increasing production would have to make up for that decrease in price if the export value is going to stay the same. It looks like it didn’t.

That trend of lower export values for dairy, eggs and honey is one that continued from 2014 to 2015, when export value decreased by around 44 percent.

Perhaps the problem isn’t in Wisconsin, it’s our northern neighbors.

While Canada consumes more of Wisconsin’s agriculture products than any other country, it specifically consumes more of our dairy exports than any other country. Unfortunately, Canadians just don’t drink as much milk anymore.

Dairy consumption in Canada decreased 17 percent in the past 10 years.

The loss of 9.51 percent of revenue international exports has cost Wisconsin producers around $23 million. In 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture spent $20 million to buy cheese in order to prop up dairy prices.

But Wisconsinites still love their dairy. In 2013, Governor Scott Walker said the state imports 10 percent of the dairy it consumes from other states. Maybe dairy producers in Wisconsin can make up for their loss in Canadian markets with some locals right around the corner.

Crop prices (March 14)

Rio Creek Feed Mill – Algoma

Commodity Price (per bushel) Basis
Corn $3.11 -0.45
New-Crop Corn $3.14 -0.66
Soybeans $8.91 -0.85
New-Crop Soybeans $8.92 -0.85
Wheat (SRW) $3.50 -0.75
New-Crop Wheat (SRW) $3.59 -0.81


Fox River Valley Ethanol – Green Bay

Corn $3.08/bushel -0.48
New-Crop Corn $3.35/bushel -0.45

Basis: The difference between the local cash price for a commodity and the Chicago cash price (where the Board of Trade sets national futures price).

Gas Price Averages

United States: $2.29

United States one year ago: $2.04

Wisconsin: $2.23

Wisconsin one year ago: $2.02

Northern Door: $2.30

Sturgeon Bay: $2.30

Other Commodities

Gold: $1,255.80/troy ounce

Silver: $18.10/troy ounce

Oil: $47.63/barrel

Sources:,,,, Department of Trade, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Canadian Dairy Information Center, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

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