California has been the country's leading milk-producing state since 1993, when it overtook Wisconsin as the largest producer of fluid milk. The Golden State also ranks first in the production of butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk and second in the manufacture of cheese.
Dairy is the state's top agriculture business. About 70% of the state's milk is produced on dairies in five counties - Tulare, Merced, Stanislaus, Kings and Kern - in the Central Valley.
With 47% of the cheese produced by California cows being used to create cheese, it is not surprising the state is home to the largest single-site cheese plant in the world, Hilmar Cheese. The company was established by a group of Jersey breeders in 1984 and expanded its cheese-making capacity by building a plant in Dalhart, Texas. Combined, the two plants produce 1.9 million pounds of cheese every day using milk from many of the Registered Jersey dairies in the region.