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

REPLACEMENT PRICES SHOT UP $370 per head since January to a $1,810 average, according to USDA. Arizona and Colorado topped the list at $2,000 per head; Idaho, $1,950 and Wisconsin, $1,900. Recent prices at California's Turlock Livestock Auction were between $1,800 and $2,275.

USDA'S FIRST 2015 ALL-MILK PRICE FORECAST ranged from $19.70 to $20.70, which was 85 cents higher than the initial forecast for 2014. The latest 2014 projection was $22.85, up $2.75 since December.

MILK PRICES MAY HAVE PEAKED with the new Class III record of $24.31 in April, stated Wisconsin's Mark Stephenson. "We will likely experience a significant downturn in prices by December with an All-Milk price approaching $19." As for 2015? It will look more like 2013.

AT $700 MILLION, MARCH DAIRY EXPORTS notched a new record and represented 17.7 percent of all U.S. milk solids for the month. Cheese, whey proteins, lactose and milk protein concentrate all reached highs.

FEED ACCOUNTED FOR 66 PERCENT of the total cost to produce milk in California last year, reported the state's ag department. Feed cost of $11.46 per hundredweight was up 9.3 percent from 2009.

COW-QUALITY ALFALFA HAY AVERAGED $265 PER TON, down only 2.8 percent from the prior year. Grain, minerals and supplements cost California dairy producers $340 per ton. Even with a higher expense plateau, income over feed costs rose 35.6 percent due to improved milk prices.

U.S. CHEESE OUTPUT POSTED A NEW RECORD for the 22nd straight year with 2013 U.S. totals at 11.1 million pounds. Wisconsin accounted for 25.7 percent of all cheese; California, 20.8 percent.

AT 1.86 BILLION POUNDS, last year's butter make rose 0.2 percent over 2012. That number stood second to 1941's all-time mark of 1.87 billion.

TOTAL CASH RECEIPTS OF $40.3 BILLION were collected by U.S. dairy farmers for marketing 200.2 billion pounds of milk in 2013. That monetary value was up $800 million over the 2011 watermark.

BRIEFLY: New Zealand exported $5 billion of goods this March for the first time in its nation's history. Dairy accounted for 30 percent of that total. April cull cow prices averaged $104 per hundredweight, a new high, reported USDA. Missouri could help fund dairy insurance as a bill was making its way through the state legislature to pay 70 percent of the federal margin protection premium up to 34 cents per cwt. Restaurant sales have picked up steam and rose to a 10-month high. There were 1,272 dairy product plants in the U.S. last year, up 69 over the last five years. Calling the science behind saturated fat hypothesis "dubious," a Wall Street Journal feature said it was time to put that hypothesis to bed and move on to test other culprits for our nation's health woes.

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