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New England Milkshed Study: State Policies

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As part of a broad policy and market analysis for New England, American Farmland Trust and researchers from Tufts University’s Agriculture, Food and Environment Program identified specific state policies and programs that are beneficial to the dairy industry.    Comparing programs and policies among the six New England states reveals many unique strategies that address different facets of dairying—from energy and land use, to business planning and market promotion, to milk pricing. Our Dairy Findings and Regional Policy Memo [PDF] details some of the findings from our study and looks at the similarities and differences between the states.  It also contains recommendations for policy changes at both the federal and state level. 

We’ve also created a special policy memo for each state.  Take a look and learn which policies and programs are helping to sustain dairy in your state.

Milk Cow-New England


Connecticut has lost more than half of its dairy operations since 1990. Presently, 210 farms, 19,000 milking cows and myriad in-state processors have an impact of between $832 million and $1.1 billion in sales. Dairy is the second most valuable component of Connecticut’s agriculture sector. The Connecticut dairy industry is supported by farmer cooperatives and robust agricultural research through the University of Connecticut.

          Connecticut State-Level Policies and Programs [PDF]

Milk Cow Eating


Maine dairies generate more than $570 million each year for the state’s economy and more than $25 million in state and municipal taxes. An innovative, tiered state support program for farmers has helped to stem some of the loss of Maine dairy farms.

         Maine State-Level Policies and Programs [PDF]

Mass Milking


The Massachusetts dairy industry is dominated by processing, which generate over $500 million annually. Much of the milk produced in New England is processed in Massachusetts into products such as ice cream and butter.

         Massachusetts State-Level Policies and Programs [PDF]


New Hampshire

New Hampshire has about 14,000 milking cows in the state, and the industry manages nearly 50,000 acres for forage crop production. Dairy farming provides 3,717 jobs in the state. New Hampshire is one of the only states that continues to provide free Johne’s disease testing for cows, which provides a significant financial and herd management benefit to farmers.

         New Hampshire State-Level Policies and Programs [PDF]

Milk cow2

Rhode Island

Rhode Island has also utilized farmer cooperatives to brand locally-produced milk and support its 15 in-state dairy farms. These farms produce about 19.5 million pounds of milk and manage 68,000 acres of cropland and pasture. Rhode Island has the highest per-acre cropland value in the country, and has also lost significant farmland in the last decade.

           Rhode Island State-Level Policies and Programs [PDF]

holstein Vermont

Vermont produces the most milk in New England, accounting for 7,500 jobs in the state and gross sales of milk products of about $1.2 billion annually. Vermont milk is processed all over the region, and dairy production accounts for more than 83 of the state’s agricultural sales.

              Vermont State-Level Policies and Programs [PDF]




American Farmland Trust