MILWAUKEE (AP) – For the 50th year in a row, Wisconsin was the top producer of paper in the nation, the Wisconsin Paper Council said Monday.

State mills generated more than 5 million tons of paper in 2003, the most recent year for which data were available, according to the American Forest and Paper Association. Maine ranked second with about 3.5 million tons.

The paper industry is facing lower demand and increasing competition from overseas, but Wisconsin’s continued top ranking is promising, said Patrick Schillinger, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council, a Neenah-based trade group.

“The latest figures demonstrate that the paper industry in Wisconsin is still the global leader,” he said in a statement. “While there have been work force reductions and some streamlining in the industry, our productions numbers are still high – we’re not going away.”