Nation's milk production Up 2 percent in April

Wisconsin State Farmer

CHICAGO, IL. – Led by several states in the southern part of the country, milk production in the United States during April increased by 2 percent compared to the month in 2016. This happened despite a reduction in two of the top four states – California and Idaho.

Texas continues to post the highest monthly increases both in percentage and volume compared to a year earlier. Its April total of 1.025 billion pounds of milk represented increases of 12.8 percent and 116 million pounds from April of 2016.

In the 30-day months before a late 2015 snowstorm caused dairy cow losses in Texas and parts of adjacent New Mexico, the monthly milk production in those states hovered at about 830 million and 620 million pounds respectively. Compared to a year ago, cow numbers in Texas were up by 45,000 to 510,000 head.

New Mexico's milk production was up by 7.5 percent to 705 million pounds in the April comparisons. The state added 17,000 cows during the past year for a total of 328,000 head.

Among the top 23 states, other contributors to the April increase were New York with an uptick of 3.9 percent for 1.265 billion pounds of milk while Michigan was up by 4.2 percent to 941 million pounds. Arizona was up by 3.8 percent to 442 million pounds while Minnesota added 2 percent for an April total of 826 million pounds of milk.

Declining production

With slight decreases in both cow numbers and average milk per cow, California continued on a downward production trend. A decrease of 39 million pounds, or 1.1 percent, gave the state an April milk production of 3.44 billion pounds. Cow numbers were down by 11,000 to 1.755 million and the average milk per cow for April was down by 10 pounds to 1,960 pounds.

Idaho posted a .7 percent reduction for April for a total of 1.189 billion pounds of milk. Its cow numbers were up by 5,000 to 596,000 but the average milk per cow dropped by 30 pounds to 1,995 pounds.

Washington reported a 2.5 percent reduction to 541 million pounds of milk for April. Average milk per cow was also down by 30 pounds to 1,980 and cow numbers were down by 3,000 to 273,000 head. Other states with decreases for April were Oregon (4.1 percent) and Illinois (.6 percent).

Wisconsin statistics

Despite lagging the national average with its increase of .6 percent,Wisconsin nonetheless had a record high production of 2.528 billion pounds of milk for an April. This was the 36th consecutive month of a milk production increase in the state in comparison with the same month a year earlier.

Wisconsin's total of 1.28 million cows was the same as for March but up by 1,000 from a year ago. The average milk per cow of 1,975 pounds was 10 pounds more than for April of 2016.

National milk production for April hit a record high of 18.3 billion pounds for the month. Cow numbers were up by 8,000 from March and by 69,000 from a year ago to 9.39 million head and the average milk per cow of 1,949 pounds was an increase of 24 pounds from April of 2016.

Active spot market

Volumes slowed on Wednesday but this week started with numerous carload sales of Cheddar cheese in the spot market at the CME Group. The price spread between Cheddar blocks and barrels continued to widen on Wednesday.

Cheddar blocks gained 2 cents on Wednesday to close at $1.6650 per pound. Five carloads were sold to boost the week's total to 18 sales and an offer to sell one carload was not covered.

With an uncovered offer to sell one carload being the day's only activity, the Cheddar barrel price slipped by 1 cent to close at $1.4625 per pound. A total of 21 carloads were sold in the spot market on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

The AA butter price continued its upward trend with a 1.75 cent pickup on Wednesday for a closing price of $2.38 per pound. Five carloads were sold to put the week's total at seven sales. In addition, a bid for four carloads was not filled and an offer to sell two carloads was not covered.

As the result of an uncovered offer to sell one carload, the Grade A non-fat dry milk price lost .25 cent to close at 92.75 cents per pound. Eight carloads were sold earlier in the week.

Futures markets vary

Several months in 2017 had low double digit increases per hundred in the Class III milk futures in trading on Wednesday morning but those gains were slipping into the single digits by early afternoon. The May 2017 price of $15.61 per hundred remained as the lowest on the trading board.

The prices then rose to $16.25 per hundred for June, $16.82 for July, the low $17s per hundred for August through November, and in the $16s per hundred for all subsequent months through April of 2019.

The national Class I fluid milk base price for June is $15.31 per hundred. This is an increase of 11 cents from the May price.

In the dry whey futures market, prices were lower for five of the remaining months of 2017 in which trades were made on Wednesday morning. Prices ranged from a high of 50.5 cents per pound for May of 2017 to lows of 36.025 cents per pound for the summer months of 2018. Every 1 cent change in the dry whey price converts to about 6 cents per hundred on the Class III milk price.

On Monday of this week, Cooperatives Working Together announced the receipt of a batch of 14 bids from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, the Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and the Tillamook County Creamery of Oregon for financial assistance on contracts to export 2.57 million pounds of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 220,462 pounds of butter. The commodities will be going to buyers in Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania on deliveries scheduled until August.