States in the Upper Midwest ran counter to the national trend in the milk production report for January that was released last week. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Illinois were in the minority of states among the top 23 that had a cutback in milk production for the month compared to January of 2013.
Wisconsin posted a decrease of 2.9 percent or 70 million pounds as its production fell to 2.305 billion pounds for the month. This was due entirely to the 55-pound drop in the average milk per cow — to 1,815 pounds — because its number of milk cows remained stable at 1.27 million.
Percentage decreases in other states were 1.3 in Ohio, 2.1 in Minnesota, 2.3 in Iowa, 4.4 in Missouri, and 4.8 in Illinois. For the nation as a whole, however, the milk production of 17.26 billion pounds in January was a .9-percent increase compared to a year ago.
California alone accounted for nearly all of the increase in milk volume in the comparisons with its increase of 4.7 percent or 162 million pounds for a total of 3.624 billion pounds in January. Percentage increases in other states included 5.8 in Colorado, 5.3 in Kansas, 4.4 in Oregon, and 3.3 in Texas.
Among other top milk production states, there were minimal increases of .3 percent in New York, .4 percent in Idaho and Pennsylvania, and 1.3 percent in Michigan. New Mexico was down by .9 percent.
In average milk per cow for January, there was great disparity among the states. California was up by 90 pounds to 2,035, Oregon by 60 pounds, Idaho by 55 pounds, and Virginia by 50 pounds while Texas, Colorado, and Vermont were all up by 40 pounds. The declines included 60 pounds per cow for the month in Illinois, 40 in New Mexico, 35 in Iowa, and 20 in Minnesota.
Dairy cow numbers across the country totaled 9.21 million in January. This was an increase of 7,000 from December of 2013 but a decrease of 13,000 from January of 2013. Idaho was down by 14,000 cows from a year earlier but no other state had a change of more than 5,000 in either direction.
The latest report indicated that the nation's milk production hit a record 201.218 billion pounds in 2013. This was a slight increase of .3 percent or 681 million pounds from 2012. It was the fourth consecutive year of a milk production record high.
Dairy cow numbers averaged 9.22 million during the year, down by .1 percent. The average milk per cow in 2013 was 21,822 pounds, up by 102 pounds from 2012. Since 2004, the average milk per cow has increased by 15.2 percent.
Wisconsin's milk production for 2013 was a record high of 27.572 billion pounds. This was an increase of 5.5 billion pounds compared to as recently as 2004.
Dairy farms in the state had an average of 1.271 million milk cows in 2013. This was an increase of 1,000 from 2012.
The average milk per cow in Wisconsin during 2013 was 21,693 pounds. This was an increase of 257 pounds from 2012.
After a downturn during the early part of February, spot market prices for Cheddar cheese on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange rebounded during the final days of the month. From Thursday, Feb. 20 through Wednesday of this week, the cumulative price increases were 10.75 cents per pound for Cheddar blocks and 13.25 cents for Cheddar barrels.
This put the closing prices on Wednesday of this week at $2.2150 for blocks and $2.20 for barrels. On the strength of bids for one carload each that were not filled, the day's price gains were 2.5 and 2.25 cents per pound respectively.
In the AA butter spot market, the price slipped by 1.5 cents per pound as ten carloads were sold on Wednesday. But the closing price of $1.78 per pound was still 1 cent higher than a week earlier.
The spot market price for Grade A non-fat dry milk fell by 4 cents per pound to $2.03 as four carloads were sold and an offer to sell five carloads was not covered on Wednesday. Dry whey futures prices held steady in the range from 63.25 cents per pound for March down to 55.65 cents for December.
Class III milk futures prices lost some ground from April through August of this year in trading on Wednesday but the prices for nearby months remained in record high territory. With only a few trading days remaining, the February futures stood unchanged at $23.20 per hundred on Wednesday afternoon.
The price for March was $21.93 but the April price had dropped by 31 cents to $20.47 per hundred. Prices were in the $19s per hundred for May through September and in the $18s for the final quarter of the year.
Another element of good news for the dairy sector was the report that only 731 of some 3,761,500 milk samples taken during fiscal 2013 were found to contain any animal drug residue. This was down from 882 such incidents in 2012 and 5,117 positive tests in more than 4.708 million samples taken in 1997.
About three-fourths of the samples are taken from bulk milk tankers before they are unloaded at processing plants. Others are obtained directly from dairy farms, from processors' silos and tanks, and in dairy products (no positives in fiscal 2013). Just over 20 million pounds of milk was discarded during the period because of a positive finding for animal drug residues.
The national Milk Processors Education Program announced this week that it is discontinuing the "Got Milk?" promotion that was launched in 1993 but California's milk promotion board has decided to keep it. The replacement promotion theme will be "Milk Life," which will put an emphasis on obtaining protein by drinking milk.
Got Milk?, which featured celebrities displaying milk mustaches, was designed to increase the consumption of fluid milk but per capita consumption of fluid milk continues to drop and total consumption is struggling to remain level as the population increases.
The national Class I fluid milk base price for March is a record high $23.64 per hundred. For the Chicago base zone of Federal Milk Marketing Order 30, it is $25.54 per hundred.
On Tuesday of this week, Cooperatives Working Together announced the receipt of a batch of 23 bids from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Land O'Lakes, and Tillamook Creamery for financial assistance on the export of 4.791 million pounds of Cheddar, Gouda, and Monterey Jack cheese and 1.032 million pounds of 82 percent butter.
Deliveries are scheduled into June to countries in Asia, the South Pacific, the Middle East, and North Africa.