Over one third of all the milk produced on dairy farms in the US comes from farms of 3,000 cows or more, according to Professor Andrew Novakovic of Cornell University.

Prof Novakovic was speaking this week at an agricultural seminar organised by Munster Technological University (MTU) in Cork.

He said that over 50% of the milk produced in the US goes to cheese production, with the proportion of fluid or drinking milk falling sharply.

'Huge growth' in takeaway

“This has been driven by huge growth in takeaway foods that people can eat while driving, such as cheddar cheese in hamburgers and mozzarella cheese on pizzas,” he said.

Professor Andrew Novakovic speaking at the Munster Technological University agricultural seminar on lessons from the US.

The professor of dairy economics said that labour shortages are the biggest challenge for dairy farmers in the US, with some states introducing new workplace regulations that result in increased labour costs.

He said that water shortages, particularly in areas such as California, have led to declines in milk supply in that state. States such as Idaho, where water and feed is not scarce, are seeing huge increases in dairy supply.

“The average herd size in the US is 340 cows, but 90% of dairy farmers have herd sizes smaller than the average. Government supports are geared towards supporting these smaller farmers,” he said.