The State That Produces The Most Cheese

Who doesn't love cheese? According to Statista, American chowed down on more than 5 billion pounds of the stuff in 2021, which represents an uptick of 1.8 billion pounds since 2010. And there's a good reason cheese consumption is so prevalent. Mount Sinai explains that cheese has an almost drug-like effect on the brain, as it contains casein, which activates your opioid receptors.

Though cheese is popular pretty much everywhere, the Midwest might be the part of America that enjoys it the most. Crystal Farms Dairy Co., drawing on Nielsen data, discovered that the Midwest consumed more than 1 billion pounds of cheese in 2021, nearly a fifth of the national total. However, when it comes to cheese production, one particular Midwestern state reigns supreme. 

In this state, cheese plays a part in everything, from cuisine to culture. Though its official nickname is "The Badger State," its bountiful bovines have earned it the unofficial moniker "The Dairy State," per UnitedStatesNow.

Wisconsin makes the most cheese, by a wide margin

Per Statista, Wisconsin produced about 3.5 billion pounds of cheese in 2021. This impressive total was over a billion pounds more than the runner-up state, California. Farm Flavor explains that Wisconsin first became the cheese production champions in 1910, and it's held onto the title ever since. Per the Wisconsin State Farmer, this cheese was processed at one of the state's 100+ cheese factories.

Additionally, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service found that Wisconsin produced more than 31 billion pounds of milk in 2021. And making that much milk — and subsequently, that much cheese — wouldn't be possible without a staggering number of dairy cows. According to Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin was home to, on average, 1.27 million milk cows in 2021. 

Though recent years have seen a decrease in the overall number of Wisconsin dairy farms, milk production has continued to rise. This can be attributed, in part, to breeding practices focused on making higher-producing livestock. The average Wisconsin dairy cow generated nearly 25,000 pounds of milk, which represents a marked increase from last year's average.

Wisconsin is truly The Dairy State

According to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Wisconsin produced 877 million pounds of speciality cheese in 2021. This included nearly 39 million pounds of cheddar, 107 million pounds of feta, and more than 83 million pounds of parmesan. Though these are all more familiar cheeses, Wisconsin is no stranger to the fancier side of things. Out of the top 20 cheeses at 2022's World Championship Cheese Contest, seven came from Wisconsin, per the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

The state of Wisconsin boasts 1,200 cheesemakers, whose combined efforts are responsible for making more than 600 different kinds of cheese, per the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection

Wisconsin Public Radio explains that Wisconsin puts prospective cheesemakers through the wringer before they can sell the wares. No other state demands that you secure a license for cheesemaking, but in Wisconsin, you'll need to take several classes, participate in a lengthy apprenticeship, and pass a written exam if you ever want to deal dairy.