Milk production up 1.2 percent

Ray Mueller
Now Media Group


The recent geographical patterns for milk production changes are still firmly in place, according to the numbers for April reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

For the nation as whole, milk production for the month was a record high of 18 billion pounds. The increase of 1.2 percent from April of 2015 was anchored by the record high average of 1,948 pounds of milk per cow for the month in the top 23 milk production states and cow number increases of 15,000 from April of 2015 and 4,000 head from March of this year.

Regional disparities

Within the top 23 states, however, there are some notable differences in production changes. In the April comparisons, California's production was down by 3.3 percent to 3.484 billion pounds and New Mexico dipped by 3.5 percent to 656 million pounds.

Meanwhile, in the Upper Midwest, Wisconsin was among the states continuing to show significant increases in the monthly comparisons for the two years. The state's milk production of 2.507 billion pounds was a 4.6 percent increase and set a record high in production for April. The average milk per cow jumped by 85 pounds to an average of 1,960 pounds while cow numbers increased by 1,000 head to 1.279 million for the month.

Michigan boosted its milk production by 6.5 percent in the April comparisons to a total of 903 million pounds, New York was up by 5.3 percent to 1.218 billion pounds, and Minnesota was up by 2.7 percent to 812 million pounds. Idaho added 2 percent for an April total of 1.197 billion pounds of milk. South Dakota continued to post the highest monthly percentage increase of 10.5 percent on a production of 210 million pounds of milk.

The milk cow total for April was 9.33 million head. States with the greatest changes from April of 2015 were Michigan with 13,000 more cows for a total of 417,000, South Dakota with 11,000 more for a total of 114,000, and Idaho with an addition of 6,000 for a total of 591,000 head. New Mexico was down by 12,000 head to 311,000 while California's total of 1.773 million dairy cows was 6,000 less than a year ago in April.

Quiet spot market day

After some activity earlier in the week, the dairy commodity spot market at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was relatively quiet on Wednesday of this week. As a result, the prices held at $1.3925 per pound for Cheddar cheese barrels and and $1.34 for Cheddar blocks. Six carloads of blocks were sold earlier in the week.

The AA butter spot market price held at $2.08 per pound on Wednesday as an offer to sell one carload was not covered. Four carloads were sold earlier in the week.

Grade A non-fat dry milk continued to be the most active on the spot market. The price slipped by 1.25 cents to 77 cents per pound on Wednesday as an offer to sell one carload was not covered and two carloads were sold, bringing the week's total to 15 carload sales.

Futures markets

With minimal price signals in the spot market for dairy commodities, the Class III milk futures trades in the early afternoon on Wednesday had changes of only single digits per hundred for the upcoming 12 months.

Prices stood at $12.82 per hundred for May, $12.66 for June, $13.13 for July, and $13.80 for August before rising into the $14s per hundred for the final four months of 2016 and then into the $15s per hundred for all months of 2017 and into early 2018. The highest Class III price available on the trading board was $16.10 per hundred for April of 2018.

Dry whey futures prices continue to hover between 25 and 29 cents per pound. The lowest price on the trading board on Wednesday was 25.375 cents per pound for May while the high prices were within a fraction of 29 cents for the final months of 2016 and the first half of 2017.

Export report

On Monday of this week, Cooperatives Working Together CWT) announced the receipt of a batch of 12 bids from the Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers, the Michigan Milk Producers Association, Tillamook County Creamery of Oregon, and the Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) for financial assistance on the export of dairy products.

Those products are 2.776 million pounds of Cheddar, Gouda, and Monterey Jack cheese, 771,618 pounds of butter, and 88,185 pounds of whole milk powder. They are scheduled to go to buyers in Asia, Oceania, South America, and the Middle East on deliveries until November of this year.

CWT, which operates under the umbrella of the National Milk Producers Federation, provides financial assistance for those exports from the 4 cent per hundred checkoff on milk shipments by members of 28 dairy cooperatives and individual producers. Those checkoffs come from about 70 percent of the nation's milk production. CWT was launched in July of 2003.