From a high of nearly 25 billion pounds of milk in 1988, Wisconsin production dropped 11 percent by 1997.
Minnesota milk production dropped 12 percent during the same period, and other district states (far smaller producers of milk) dropped even more.
In order to reach production goals, Wisconsin cheese producers were forced to ship in milk from as far away as Texas.
Wisconsin America's Dairyland, home of the Cheesehead, national epicenter of udderscouldn't produce enough milk to meet local demand in 2001.
And the decline of district dairy is a longand some say inevitabletrend.
Driven by technological advance and market consolidation, the dairy industry has undergone dramatic change in recent decades.
Thousands of small dairy farms have gone out of business in Ninth District states, cow inventories have plummeted, milk production has dropped, and the center of dairy gravity has shifted relentlessly from the Midwest to the West Coast.
But dairy farmers in the Ninth District aren't admitting defeat, and their recent responses to the decline have ranged from large-scale growth to innovative development of small-scale dairy niches.
Wisconsin and other district states may never regain the title of America's Dairyland, but these farmers hope they might just stop the downward flow of Midwest milk.
For most of the 20th century, Wisconsin was the nation's top milk producer.
A climate favorable to good forage and a culture of skilled dairy farmers producing quality product for local processors guaranteed steady growth to the industry and comfortable profitability.