After nearly five decades of taking the industry for granted, Jeanne Carpenter with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture says dairy is experiencing a renaissance in the state, fueled by specialty cheeses. Carpenter says that the last four years has seen a growth of specialty dairy operations. That's despite concerns about dairy farms closing and Wisconsin losing the title of top mile producer to California.

In the past four years, 23 new dairies have opened in Wisconsin and over 40 expanded. As the old saying goes, "necessity is the mother of invention" and faced with changing market conditions, state farmers needed to get more buck for their milk. Carpenter says specialty cheeses help them meet that goal because they carry a higher profit margin.

Wisconsin has 115 cheese plants make at least one type of specialty cheese. The state ranks first in specialty cheese production with more than 45% of all specialty cheese produced in the United States comes from America's Dairy Land.

AUDIO: Paul Knoff reports (MP3 1:04)

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