With milk consumption on the decline, leaders in the industry are facing a potential crisis, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Since 1975, milk consumption has declined per capita by nearly 30 percent, the WSJ reported, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.

Milk unhealthy?

There is some debate about how healthy milk is for human consumption.

Some argue that, in part, because cows are injected with hormones, milk may be dangerous.

Fat, cholesterol and antibiotics given to cows are other causes of concern for some.

For more reading on that topic, click hereand here.

That corresponds with the increasing popularity of bottled water, concern about calories from some consumers and the fact that children-who generally drink a lot of milk-make up a smaller part of the population now than in the past, according to the WSJ article.

Milk prices are also at play, contributing to a faster decline in consumption.

In 23 states, milk production was down this October from the same time last year, UT’s Agriculture Institute also reported.

Athens, Tenn., is home to the largest dairy farm in the Southeast, Mayfield Dairy, according to the company’s website.

The dairy farm serves nine states in the Southeast and produces 69 million gallons of milk annually.

Mayfield representatives couldn’t be immediately reached Wednesday for more information about whether their business is being impacted by a decline in milk consumption.

A report from the University of Tennessee’s extension office found that overall milk production in Tennessee has been on the decline, in part, because the number of farms is also declining.

But because of predicted population increases in the Southeast, experts expect the demand for milk in this area to grow in coming years, also according to the UT extension office report.

Nationwide, industry leaders are nervous about the decline in consumption and are reworking marketing campaigns and packaging to reverse the trend, the WSJ reported.