You might not realize it, but New Jersey has a small but vibrant dairy industry.

“The dairy industry is very important: it’s a $31 million commodity that includes milk as well as cheese production,” said Jeff Wolfe, a spokesman for the state Agriculture Department.

State state has 58 dairy farms spread from South Jersey to Hunterdon County. Most dairy farms produce cow’s milk, but some also have goat milk.

Wolfe noted some dairy farms have 20 cows, while other larger operations may have more than 100 cows at any given time

Industry estimates put the economic value of each cow at $12,500.

The cows produce the milk, but then that product has to be delivered to a milk plant and the milk and cheese then goes to the supermarkets. So the trucking industries and other industries all benefit.

Wolfe said there are four Class 1 milk bottling plants in New Jersey, “which means that’s the milk you drink, that’s the milk that goes to the supermarket. Also we have 16 cheese processing operations, and some are bigger than others.”

He stressed having local milk and cheese processing operations is important because “if it take less time to travel the longer it’s going to stay fresh, so that’s always a key element.”

Wolfe also noted dairy cows need to be milked every day, which means dairy farmers never get a day off.

“We respect and appreciate the hard work that they’re doing, ” he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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