As printed in our November 2013 issue...

FARM BILL NEGOTIATIONS finally got out of the starting gate on October 30 as the Senate and House conference committees delivered public comments. The next step would be a closed door meeting involving debate and compromise between party leaders from both committees.

TO REACH A COMPROMISE, leadership will have to determine what are acceptable numbers for programs - especially food assistance - in order to secure enough votes. The House will not be back in session until November 12, and the year is quickly drawing to a close.

SUPPORT FOR EXTENDING MILC temporarily would provide some security for dairy farmers since no dairy safety net currently exists. A bipartisan group of 13 U.S. senators signed a letter to back extension.

SEPTEMBER MILK OUTPUT rose 1 percent nationally. Among the top 10 states, only two reduced milk flow: Idaho, -1.5 percent, and New Mexico, -1.4 percent. California grew 0.4 percent and Wisconsin, 1 percent.

BUTTER STOCKS FELL NEARLY 12 PERCENT in September when compared to August inventories. Despite the downward trend, butter inventories remained 19 percent higher than the same time last year. Cheese also fell 3 percent when compared to the previous month.

AUGUST U.S. DAIRY EXPORTS TOTALED $614 MILLION. On a total solids basis, shipments represented 17.5 percent of August milk production. Meanwhile, dairy imports were only 2.8 percent on the same scale.

CLASS IV (BUTTER AND POWDER) VALUES OUTPACED Class III (cheese and whey) for the ninth straight month. The October Class IV price was $20.17 per cwt., while Class III posted an $18.22 benchmark.

CULLING ACTIVITY SLOWED as 259,000 cows were sent to packing plants in September, down 7,000 from the prior month. However, culling remained nearly 22,000 head above last year's cumulative pace through late October. Cull cows, beef included, averaged $79.70 per cwt.

OCTOBER CORN PRICES DROPPED by 91 cents from September to settle at $4.49 per bushel, reported USDA. That also was down $2.29 from last October. Soybeans were selling for $12.60, down $1.60 from last year.

AT 2.09, OCTOBER MILK-FEED PRICE RATIO POSTED its best mark in nearly three years. Values used: $20.10 milk, $4.49 corn, $12.60 soybeans and $193 alfalfa. Total bill was $9.61 for a $10.59 income over feed cost.

BRIEFLY: Class III milk futures climbed 30 cents in late October trading for November through April contracts. Those six contracts averaged $17.46. Dairy replacements averaged $1,400 per head. This was the first report by USDA since last October when prices averaged $1,390.

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