As printed in our April 10, 2016 issue...



STRONG DOMESTIC SALES have kept U.S. milk prices ahead of other dairy export countries. Domestic consumption, measured by USDA's commercial disappearance figure, climbed to over 200 billion pounds for the first time in U.S. history. That was up 2.8 percent over the previous year.

EVEN THOSE ROBUST CONSUMPTION TOTALS couldn't prevent the slide in mailbox prices that fell to a six-year low of $17.02. (See page 242.)

FORECAST YOUR OWN MAILBOX PRICE for a 12-month pay period with an Excel-based program jointly created by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Brian Gould and National All-Jersey. To obtain a copy of the application, email bwgould@wisc.edu or naj@usjersey.com.

DAIRY PRODUCTS FLOWED stateside with the prior year's import quotas reset. January imports were 809 million pounds on a milkfat, milk-equivalent basis. That was the highest single-month level since January 2006.

HIGHER CHEESE AND BUTTER PRICES drove products stateside. U.S. butter prices exceeded New Zealand and Australia by 69 to 79 cents per pound in January and February. Cheese prices led by 13 to 22 cents.

SLUGGISH PRICES WILL REMAIN until milk output subsides or product demand grows. Oceania (New Zealand and Australia) has slowed production while the EU was up 4.9 percent in December alone.

U.S. MILK ROSE ONLY 1 PERCENT in February, when adjusted for leap year. New Mexico fell 9.4 percent while Texas was off 2 percent following the aftermath of Goliath. South Dakota jumped 10.6 percent, Michigan climbed 7.7 percent and Wisconsin grew 5.1 percent.

HOLSTEINS COMPRISE 86 PERCENT of the U.S. dairy herd with Jerseys at 7.8 percent, reported USDA specialists in Dairy 2014. Rounding out the breeds: Other (mainly crossbreds), 4.9 percent; Brown Swiss, 0.8; Ayrshire, 0.2; Guernsey, 0.2; and Milking Shorthorn, 0.1.

UNDERMEASURING AND OVERMEASURING MILK was an issue for 10 percent of the 269 bulk milk tanks inspected in the Northeast Federal Milk Marketing Order. Of the tanks requiring recalibration, there was an almost even split. Tanks under 1,500 gallons had the most issues.

A GMO FOOD-LABELING BILL failed to gain cloture, or 60-vote approval, during a Senate vote in March. That doesn't mean the bill to create a national food labeling standard is dead, but it will be a steeper climb to gain passage. Senate ag leaders continue to work on a compromise.

BRIEFLY: February butter inventories jumped 23 percent from January and 32 percent for the same time last year. Cheese stocks grew 11 percent from last February. While beef cow culling remained on pace with last year, dairy-cow slaughter continued to climb in recent months. Walmart broke ground on a fluid milk plant in Indiana.

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