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CHICAGO, IL

The national milk production report for March, which was released on Wednesday afternoon of this week showed an increase of 1.8 percent compared to March of 2015. Eighteen of the top 23 milk production states reported an increase for the month in the yearly comparisons.

Among those states, Wisconsin set a milk production record for any March with a total of 2.56 billion pounds this year. That was an increase of 5.3 percent or 129 million pounds from a year ago. The state's cow numbers were up by 4,000 head to 1.28 million.

Neighboring Michigan continued its milk production surge with an increase of 7.7 percent for a total of 924 million pounds for March. New York recorded an increase of 5.5 percent to 1.24 billion pounds of milk for March.

Percentage increases for March included 2.8 to 833 million pounds in Minnesota and 2.4 percent to 1.215 billion pounds in Idaho. Increases in states with lower production volumes were 10.9 in South Dakota, 4.4 in Indiana, 3.2 in Arizona, and 3 in Illinois.

Texas has apparently recovered quite well from losses in a late December snowstorm by posting a 2 percent milk production increase to 911 million pounds for March. Its cow numbers were still down by 6,000 to 458,000 head but milk per cow jumped by 65 pounds to an average of 1,990 pounds for March.

Less March milk

California continued in its pattern of monthly reduced milk production with a 2.4 percent drop to 3.61 billion pounds in March. Its cow numbers were down by only 5,000 from a year ago to 1.774 million head but average milk per cow was down by 45 pounds to 2,035 pounds for March.

New Mexico's cow numbers were down by 12,000 to 311,000 in the wake of the late 2015 storm and its milk production for March fell by 2.9 percent to 666 million pounds. Other milk production percentage decreases in the March comparisons were 5.7 in Florida, 1.6 in Utah, and .6 in Virginia.

In the top 23 milk production states, the average milk per cow set a record high of 1,993 pounds for March. This was an increase of 31 pounds from March of 2015.

The report this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that total dairy cow numbers for the first quarter of 2016 were 9.32 million head. This is down by 5,000 from the 4th quarter of 2015 but up by 7,000 compared to the 1st quarter of 2015.

Mid-week spot market

Spot market gains were posted for both Cheddar cheese blocks and barrels on Wednesday morning at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Cheddar barrels led the way with a 3 cent gain for a closing price of $1.45 per pound during a market day with four carload sales, an unfilled bid for one carload, and an uncovered offer to sell one carload. On the sale of one carload, Cheddar blocks advanced by 1.25 cents to $1.44 per pound.

The AA butter price, however, slipped by 3 cents on Wednesday to close at $2.04 per pound as one carload was sold and a bid for one carload was not filled. Grade A non-fat dry milk picked up .75 cent per pound to close at 74.75 cents during a market day with an unfilled bid to buy one carload and an uncovered offer to sell one carload.

Futures prices slide

Despite the day's gains for Cheddar cheese in the spot market, the Class III milk futures prices declined for all months through January of 2017 in early afternoon trading on Wednesday. Those price setbacks ranged from 2 to 18 cents per hundred.

The price changes left the Class III futures in the upper $13s per hundred for April through June of 2016, in the $14s for July and August, and in the $15s per hundred for all subsequent months through March of 2018.

Dry whey futures for the coming two years continue in a tight range with the only trading taking place for nearby months. The price range for contracts was from a low of 24.9 cents per pound for April of 2016 to a high of 28.8 cents for March of 2017.

Export report

On Tuesday of this week, Cooperatives Working Together announced the receipt of a batch of eight bids from Dairy Farmers of America, the Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and the Tillamook County Creamery of Oregon for financial assistance on the export of dairy commodities.

Those products are 668,001 pounds of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 88,185 pounds of whole milk powder. They will be going to buyers in Asia, the Middle East, and Central America on deliveries scheduled from April to October of 2016

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