Milk was designated the official state beverage of Pennsylvania in 1982. Pennsylvania is the fifth largest producer of milk in the United States (as well as the top producer of mushrooms, and the fourth largest producer of apples, freestone peaches, and eggs). Farms comprise about one quarter of the Commonwealth's land (7,745,336 acres out of a total 28,684,800 land acres).
Milk has been called a nearly perfect food; a source of protein, calcium, and several other important nutrients. Some farmers say that Pennsylvania's state beverage can be an effective repellent to the state animal (the white-tailed deer) by spraying diluted milk on garden plants.
Pennsylvania produced over 10.5 billion pounds of milk in 1999, each cow giving about 6.5 gallons per day. New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont are the major dairy states in the Northeast. Less than half of this milk is consumed as a beverage - excess is used for butter, cheese, ice cream, milk powder and other processed products.