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How can I tell if the gallon of milk I purchased was produced in Michigan? 

Each container of milk is identified by a 5-digit code. The code includes a 2-digit state code followed by a 3-digit processing plant code. Milk produced in Michigan is identified by the state code 26. Click on the image below to see an example:


Produced in Michigan, processed in Michigan: From farm to processing plant. 

There are nearly 90 dairy processing plants in Michigan. Not all processing plants bottle milk into gallon, half-gallon and pint-size containers, however. Instead, they perform functions ranging from bottling fluid milk to processing cheese, ice cream, yogurt, dry powdered products and infant formula, to artisan goat milk and cheese made from sheep's milk. 

Processing plants typically receive milk from those dairy farms located closest to them. Each week, dairy processing plants place orders with milk cooperatives for the amount of milk they want delivered to their facilities each day. The dispatch department at the milk cooperative determines the most efficient route for its haulers based on the number and location of dairy farms shipping milk and the average volume of milk the farms are shipping. 

Surplus milk not needed by Michigan processors is shipped out of state. About 25 to 30 percent of the total milk produced in the state is exported. 

In a single month (August 2012), for example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that Michigan dairy farmers produced 651 million pounds of milk. This is the equivalent of 75 million gallons or 1.3 billion 8-ounce glasses of milk. Of this amount, 162 million to 195 million pounds were likely exported to another state