As printed in our October 10, 2013 issue...

THE HOUSE PASSED THE FOOD PORTION of its farm bill. Now, the nutrition title can be married to the 11 previously passed farm components. After that, the House must appoint conference committee members.

NEGOTIATIONS COULD PROVE TO BE DIFFICULT as a $36 billion divide exists between the Republican House and Democratic Senate versions on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food spending.

ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSING has been on the uptick. U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended just over 388,000 people through 11 months of its fiscal year. That was already up 6.5 percent over the previous year.

MEXICAN NATIONALS remained the largest category, however, over one-third of those detained were OTMs - people from places other than Mexico.

BORDER APPREHENSIONS were still far below the 1980 to 2005 peak when U.S. agents apprehended over 1 million people per year. After that time span, crossings dropped as the recession slowed the U.S. economy.

LIKE THE FARM BILL, IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION has been slowed by House inaction. After the Senate passed a comprehensive reform package this summer, the House still hasn't formally debated any bill.

DEMAND FOR MILK COULD GROW 29 PERCENT worldwide over the next decade, projected economists at the International Farm Comparison Network. To meet that demand, milk production would need to surpass 1,000 million metric tons of milk by 2023 (currently at 780 million).

CHINA WAS PEGGED TO REMAIN the leading dairy importer, more than doubling imports. It would be followed by Russia, Brazil and India.

WHILE GLOBAL MILK SUPPLIES REMAIN TIGHT, New Zealand pastures were recovering from drought, and milk production could expand 4.5 to 6 percent over last year as it moves into its springtime flush.

ONLY 0.7 PERCENT GROWTH in U.S. milk production, reported USDA in its latest estimate for this year. Its 2014 projection was 1.3 percent.

AUGUST MILK FLOW EXPANDED 2.6 PERCENT nationally which was the largest gain this year. Only Idaho and New Mexico slowed milk output, while California posted its first gain in over a year at 2.7 percent.

BUTTER AND CHEESE INVENTORIES fell 9.2 and 3.8 percent, respectively, in August when compared to July. However, butter stocks remained 33.5 percent higher than the same time last year; cheese 3.1 percent.

BRIEFLY: At 266,000 head, August dairy cow slaughter outpaced July by 15,000 cows but was off 9,000 head from the prior year. California feed costs continued to creep up as 66.8 percent of financial outlays were feed related compared to 64.8 percent at the same point last year.

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