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CHICAGO, IL

Because of the Leap Day in February of this year, the year to year statistical comparisons of the monthly milk production were skewed in totals and percentages but meaningful comparisons can be made on daily averages.

For Wisconsin and the other 22 top states in milk production, daily comparisons for 2015 and 2016 on the numbers reported last week Friday showed increases of 5.2 percent for Wisconsin and just over 1 percent for those 23 states and the nation as a whole. As reported statistically for the month without correcting for the extra day, the respective percentage increases were 8.9 and 4.6.

Daily comparisons

During the 29 days of February this year, Wisconsin's average milk per day for its estimated 1.28 million dairy cows was 64.14 pounds compared to 61.25 pounds for the 1.275 million cows in the milking herd for the 28 days of February in 2015. For daily milk production in the state, the average was 82.1 million pounds in February this year compared to 78.1 million pounds in 2015.

For the 15.82 billion pounds of the milk reported for the top 23 states, of which Wisconsin accounted for 2.381 billion pounds, the daily average for February this year was 545.5 million pounds – up by 1 percent from the 540 million pounds in February of 2015. The nation's milk production for February was 16.9 billion pounds.

Given the extra day, every state in the top 23 except New Mexico technically registered an increase for the month. In comparison with 2015, its daily average was down by more than 6 percent this year. For the daily comparisons, Texas was down by about 2 percent this year.

Both states are still reeling from the effects of a devastating blizzard in late December. This is reflected in their cow numbers from a year ago — down by 12,000 in New Mexico and by 13,000 in Texas.

Top production states

As reported, California had a .5 percent increase for February with its 3.3 billion pounds of milk this year. But the one-day conversion would put that at a daily decline of 3 percent. The state's cow numbers were down by 5,000 from a year ago to 1.774 million but its daily average per cow matched Wisconsin's 64.14 pounds — down from California's average of 65.9 pounds per day in February of 2015.

Converted for the one-day difference, the February increases in other top production states were 8 percent in Michigan, nearly 5 percent in New York, 2 percent in Idaho, and 1.6 percent in Minnesota. Other top daily percentage increases were 11 in South Dakota, 4.6 in Indiana, 3.4 in Colorado, 2.4 in Vermont, and 2.1 in Oregon.

Dairy cow numbers for the nation as a whole in February were reported to be 9.31 million. That's up by 4,000 from a year ago and by 2,000 from January.

Spot market prices

Spot market prices for dairy commodities on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange were struggling again during the trading session on Wednesday of this week. Prices for Cheddar barrel cheese, AA butter, and Grade A non-fat dry milk all suffered setbacks.

The Cheddar barrel cheese price slipped by 2 cents per pound to close at $1.45 after a market session with one carload sale, to bring the week's total to five, and an uncovered offer to sell one carload. On Friday of last week, the barrel cheese price had jumped by 8 cents per pound to $1.50. The Cheddar cheese block price stood at $1.49 per pound with no market activity during the week.

With a 3.75 cent loss on Wednesday, the AA butter price fell to $1.92 per pound as six carloads were sold to put the week's total at 16. The day's activity also included an unfilled bid to buy one carload and an uncovered offer to sell one carload.

Grade A non-fat milk joined in the price downturn with a .50 cent per pound loss to close at 73.25 cents. The market session had one carload sale, an uncovered offer to sell one carload, and an unfilled bid to buy one carload.

Futures markets

Price changes in the dairy futures markets were minimal in contracts traded through the late morning on Wednesday. For Class III milk, no per hundred changes reached double figures and trading activity was minimal for dry whey on Wednesday morning.

The slight changes in the Class III milk futures left prices at between $13.66 and $13.90 per hundred for March through July of 2016, in the $14s from August 2016 through June of 2017, and in the $15s per hundred from July 2017 through February of 2018.

In the very quiet dry whey futures market, prices on the board for the upcoming two years were in a tight range of 25.50 to 30.225 cents per pound. Every one cent of the dry whey price contributes about six cents per hundred to the Class III milk price.

Export report

On Monday of this week, Cooperatives Working Together reported requests by Dairy Farmers of America, the Michigan Milk Producers Association, and Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) for financial assistance on a total of five contacts to export dairy commodities.

Those commodities are 3.88 million pounds of whole milk powder and 178,574 pounds of Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese going to buyers in Asia, Oceania, and South America for delivery by September.

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