As printed in our March 25, 2014 issue...

NEW MILK PRICE RECORDS were set for all four classes. The March Class I Mover was $23.64, up $1.62 from last month's watermark. The February Class II posted $23.73, up $1.32 from the August 2007 top; Class III recorded $23.35, $1.32 higher than August 2007; and the Class IV of $23.46 was $1.97 above the July 2007 record.

FEBRUARY MILK-FEED RATIO was 2.55. Values used: $24.70 milk, $4.47 corn, $13.10 soybeans and $188 alfalfa. Feed cost was $9.68 ($12.83 a year ago; $11.35 two years ago) for a $15.02 income-over-feed cost.

CORN PRICES RALLIED to a six-month high in early March in response to tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Soybeans followed suit due to an ongoing drought in Brazil, which was the worst in decades.

BRAZIL HAD BEEN POISED to pass the U.S. as the world's top soybean producer this year, but most analysts indicated the drought will prevent it. The Ukraine held down the third position in corn exports.

CLASS I OR FLUID USE across federal orders settled at 32 percent last year. Class II (yogurt and soft products) was 12 percent; Class III (cheese), 47 percent; and Class IV (butter and dried products), 9 percent.

DAIRY AND VEGETABLES accounted for the most food waste at 19 percent each when looking at retail and consumer levels. In all, 31 percent or 133 of the 430 billion pounds went uneaten in 2010, according to USDA.

OF DAIRY'S 25.4 BILLION POUNDS of food losses, 17 billion or 67 percent took place in the fluid sector. That milk was valued at $6.4 billion.

CANADIAN HEIFER INVENTORY (1 year or older) was 446,200 on January 1, down 1.1 percent from 2013 and off 4 percent from five years ago.

THERE WERE 4.54 MILLION HEIFERS in the U.S. (over 500 pounds) this January, down 0.3 percent from a year earlier. That was down 1.8 percent from two years ago. Cow counts: 9.21 million in U.S.; 959,000 in Canada.

TRADEMARKING CHEESE NAMES through GIs remained front and center when the EU's trade commissioner came to Washington, D.C. The EU has pushed for more protections while 51 U.S. Senators sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative speaking out against the practice.

AIMING FOR FURTHER INROADS, the EU said the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and Cooperatives Working Together (even though it has been funded by private funds) were barriers to Europe's products.

BRIEFLY: New Zealand's Fonterra raised its forecast for milk prices by 4 percent to a record $19.03 per pound of milk solids. California's top three counties produced 53 percent of the state's milk last year. Canada's economy would gain $1.2 billion a year if the country ended its supply controls, reported a study by the Conference Board of Canada.

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