While cash cheese and 2012 Class III prices backed-off a little on Friday, overall it was a pretty good week for dairy on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. For the week, cash cheese barrels and blocks gained 1.5 cents and butter increased 4.25 cents, these are the highest cheese and butter prices since mid-November. Grade A nonfat dry milk increased 17 cents higher while Extra Grade added 18.5 cents. October, November and December Class III prices gained about 50 cents each on the week.
Milk production in the U.S. in July totaled 16.6 billion pounds up 0.7 percent compared to July of 2011. This is the smallest year-over-year increase of 2012. The number of cows in the nation’s dairy herd increased 29,000 head to 9.2 million cows while production per cow increased 7 pounds to average 1,799. While the numbers are up compared to a year ago, that is the smallest the dairy herd has been since last December.
Six of the 23 major dairy states, Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Texas and Pennsylvania saw a decline in milk production compared to a year ago.
California produced 3.5 billion pounds down 1 percent from July of 2011. The Golden State added 13,000 cows to make the herd 1.785 million head but production per cow fell 35 pounds to 1,960.
Wisconsin milk production increased 4.4 percent in July to 2.27 billion pounds. The Badger State dairy herd increased 7,000 to 1.27 million head and production per cow jumped 65 pounds to 1,785.
Rounding-out the top-five milk producing states: Idaho 1.2 billion pounds +0.5%; New York 1.11 billion pounds +1.9%: Pennsylvania 867 million pounds -1.5%.
For the April-through-June quarter, U.S. milk production totaled 51.48 billion pounds up 2.1 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011.
The latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook from USDA estimates the U.S. dairy herd will shrink to 9.1 million head by the end of the year as high feed prices push more dairy cattle to slaughter. As a result the Ag Department has trimmed their milk production estimate to 200 billion pounds in 2012 and 198.9 billion in 2013.