As printed in our May 10, 2014 issue...

NATIONALLY, MARCH MILK WAS UP 0.9 PERCENT with Colorado and Texas leading the pack by growing output over 6 percent. California and its 1.78 million cows made 3.7 percent more milk than last March.

LESS THAN STELLAR FORAGE continued to plague Upper Midwest milk production. In March, milk flow in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin was down 1.6 to 4.8 percent compared to last year.

DAIRY PRICES FELL for the fifth straight trading at New Zealand's Global Dairy Trade dating back to February 18. However, product prices still remain robust stateside with May to October Class III futures at $20.42. On average, those contracts were up $2.70 since early January trading.

SHORT TERM, NEW ZEALAND will have a reduced impact on global prices as the fall grazing season came to an end. Through February, the Kiwis' milk production had been up 6.4 percent.

AMERICAN CHEESE STOCKS were down 8 percent compared to the same time last year. Even though butter was up 9 percent from the previous month, it was still off 30 percent from last March's inventories.

RECORD MILK PRICES have slowed culling, despite historically high beef prices. Through March, 77,000 fewer cows (-9.3 percent) were slaughtered.

A COLD, HARSH WINTER has extended its tentacles into a cool, wet spring. As a result, the planting season for all major crops was well behind the five-year average throughout the Midwest and Great Plains.

DRY CONDITIONS IN CALIFORNIA have expanded as the entire state was engulfed in a moderate-to-exceptional drought. There appeared to be no end in sight as the state's snowpack was 16 percent of the norm.

THE TEXAS PANHANDLE also had the driest 42-month period (October 2010 to March 2014) since 1895. Drought conditions also worsened in Arizona and New Mexico with fire risks mounting.

FDA PULLED BACK A PROPOSED RULE to further regulate brewers and distillers grains. Originally, it had suggested that the by-product feed would need additional processing before shipment to farms.

BY ENACTING A GMO-LABELING LAW, Vermont became the first state to require food makers to label products made with the technology. Other states could follow suit but may wait until court battles are settled.

DAIRY'S PROACTIVE WORK WITH DIGESTERS was cited by USDA Secretary Vilsack on Earth Day. To date, USDA has financed 92 digesters and has the goal to fund one a week. Despite those efforts, fewer than 250 operate across the U.S. compared to some 7,000 in Germany.

THE U.S. EXPORTED OVER 50 PERCENT of its production in three categories in 2013: lactose, 72 percent; nonfat dry milk, 58; and dry whey, 56.

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