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Keywords:

  • agriculture;
  • dairy;
  • geographical restructuring;
  • Great Plains;
  • High Plains;
  • Kansas

abstract.

Western Kansas has an historical identification with cattle, with a focus on cattle ranching and more specifically since the 1950s, beef-cattle feedlots. Since the mid-1990s large dairy operations have moved into southwestern Kansas. Today more than twenty large dairies house more than 70,000 milk cows. These operate as confined feeding operations similar to beef-cattle feedlots. Regional advantages for the dairy industry include affordable land with wide-open space, local residents' cattle- and dairy-friendly attitudes, and other factors. Regional promoters have actively recruited dairies, and a dairy-business support system has emerged. The prospects for continued expansion of dairies in southwestern Kansas are unclear; despite the locational advantages and the possibility that the industry may continue to relocate here, as did the cattle-feeding industry several decades ago, further moves into the area may depend on continued resources availability and additional infrastructure development.