For dairy families, sustainability is a key part of the past, present and future

With 99 percent of our state’s dairies family owned and operated, it’s safe to say dairy farming is a family affair in California.

More than 1,450 family dairy farms dot the rural landscape from the North Coast to the great Central Valley and down to San Diego. These multi-generation “cow families” have brought us to where we stand today – the nation’s leading dairy state, supplying one-fifth of the total U.S. milk supply, while creating 443,000 jobs and $63 billion in economic activity in local communities across the Golden State.

Not surprisingly, California dairy families embrace a long, rich and proud dairying tradition, dating back to the 1850s. And much has changed in our society from more than a century ago, including how we farm.

On many of today’s family farms, open-air freestall barns have replaced the old red barns of yesteryear, while milk pails and stools gave way long ago to modern milking machines. Today’s consumer, increasingly removed from the daily rigors of farm and dairy life, might be surprised by farming’s evolution and progress. But while the look of family farms has changed over the last century, the principles and values of our families on the farm have not.

California’s dairy families continue to honor hard work, innovation and integrity, values that made their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents successful. Their heritage is one of producing safe and nutritious food, responsible animal care, environmental stewardship and a commitment to investing in the communities in which they live and farm. This heritage is also key to their future, grounded by a commitment to a better, more sustainable California.

Our state’s dairy families and the broader dairy community – from the farm to the processing plant – remain committed to investing in our planet, people and animals. On our website, you’ll read about the progress being made, both on and off the farm, to deliver you and your family more sustainable dairy products.

Thank you for taking time to learn about our families’ work on the farm so we can continue to meet your family’s needs for affordable, delicious and nutritious dairy products.

Photo of Chuck Ahlem

Charles Ahlem
Dairy Cares

California’s 1,450 dairy families are dedicated to sustainable dairy farming practices now and in the future.This means:

  • Jobs for hundreds of thousands of Californians
  • Healthy, nutritious and affordable dairy products for millions of families
  • Responsible care and treatment of dairy cattle
  • World-class environmental stewardship and innovation