As printed in our February 25, 2015 issue...

CALIFORNIA'S THREE LARGEST CO-OPS submitted a proposal to create a Federal Milk Marketing Order that would supplant the existing state order. Groups have until April 10 to submit alternatives. After a USDA analysis, a hearing would be scheduled to gather industry input.

NEW ZEALAND PROJECTED A 3.3 PERCENT REDUCTION in milk collections compared to the prior year. Kiwi farmers have been reducing spending due to small or even negative cash returns for making milk.

AS A RESULT, WHOLE MILK POWDER ROSE 19.2 PERCENT at the recent Global Dairy Trade's auction. That carried the all-product average to $1.38 per pound, up 9.4 percent; prices rose on four of seven offerings.

CLASS III FUTURES ROSE NEARLY $1 from mid-January to mid-February with a $16.55 average at the magazine's close. February's $15.88 was the low month with October's $17.28 the high mark.

ON JANUARY 1, HEIFER INVENTORIES stood at 4.62 million head (500 pounds or larger) or 49.6 heifers per 100 cows. That heifer-to-cow ratio hovered near a five-year low. Values averaged $1,990 per head nationally with a low of $1,800 in California and a high of $2,200 in Michigan.

MILK PRODUCTION CLIMBED 2.4 PERCENT throughout 2014 to reach 206 billion pounds. Milk per cow averaged 22,258 pounds, up 2 percent. Both were new records. Cows rose by 0.5 percent to 9.255 million head.

FOR THE 23RD STRAIGHT YEAR, cheese production posted a new record. In 2014, cheese output grew 2.8 percent to reach 11.4 billion pounds.

THE U.S. BUTTER CHURN NETTED 1.83 billion pounds, down 1.7 percent from the prior year. That marked the first reduction since 2010.

U.S. DAIRY EXPORTS TALLIED A RECORD $7.1 BILLION, despite slumping sales in the second half of the year. That was up 6 percent or $400 million from 2013. On a total solids basis, the U.S. exported 15.4 percent of its production and imported the equivalent of 3.2 percent.

DAIRY, EGGS AND POULTRY have been a sticking point in Pacific region trade talks. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Canada and Japan must open their markets to U.S. dairy farmers or not be part of the final trade agreement. The Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over international trade in the House.

BRIEFLY: Dairy cow culling posted back-to-back 130,000 head weeks in January which was the strongest culling since March 2013. The CME Group will be closing most of its trading pits after 150 years of futures trading in ag commodities. Farm payments could swell to $4.8 billion annually over the next decade in an updated comparison by the Congressional Budget Office on anticipated farm bill spending.

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