As printed in our December 2016 issue . . .

TIGHT LABOR SUPPLIES have placed a burden on some dairies. In November, the jobless rate fell to a nine-year low of 4.6 percent. Overall, 15 million jobs have been added since the labor force bottomed out in 2010.

DAIRY MAY WIN BY DEFAULT. That’s because 2017 outlooks for other major commodities make dairying look like agriculture’s best financial sector in 2017. Overall, presenters at the National Agricultural Bankers Conference forecast that dairy may be the only sector to break even.

FUTURES MARKETS BEAR THAT OUT as CME futures climbed from a $16.05 average to $16.75 for January to June 2017 contracts over a 30-day window. In New Zealand, the Global Dairy Trade’s price index climbed in eight of the past nine trading events dating back to August.

ALSO SIGNALING HIGHER PRICES, USDA economists moved the 2017 forecast to a $16.75 All-Milk price for 2017 with a range of $16.30 to $17.20. That prediction was 75 cents higher than one month earlier.

NO INDEMNITY PAYMENTS were made in the September-October period for the Margin Protection Program (MPP-Dairy). The September margin was $9.48; October, $8.97. The October prices were: $16.60 milk (cwt.) , $3.29 corn (bushel), $135 hay (ton), and $323 soybean meal (ton). The MPP-Dairy deadline to sign up for 2017 milk is December 16, 2016.

CALIFORNIA GREW MILK PRODUCTION for the first time since November 2014. Overall, 20 of the top 23 dairy states held steady or expanded milk flow this past October. U.S. milk output rose 2.7 percent.

HAY PRICES ARE DEPRESSED out West as high carryover supplies, coupled with more alfalfa acres, higher production, and lower domestic demand from dairies drove markets down. The largest stocks can be found in Idaho and Washington, noted hay specialist Seth Hoyt.

THE U.S. DOLLAR CLIMBED TO A 13-YEAR HIGH in mid-November. As that happened, goods and services became more expensive to trade partners. To counter its value, the U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated that U.S. interest rates might go up “relatively soon.”

BRIEFLY: Replacement values tumbled to $1,690 per head. While that was off only $40 per head from three months earlier, that value was $290 lower than one year ago. Milk dumping could continue in the Northeast federal order as handlers remove cream and dispose of excess skim milk from Thanksgiving through the New Year. Environmental and anti-business laws will be easier to pass in California as Democrats have a super majority in both the state senate and assembly. That means no Republican votes are needed to pass laws. New Zealand dairy herd numbers fell for the first time since the 2007-2008 season and now total 11,918.

In your January 10, 2017 issue . . .

MILK QUALITY IS PART OF THEIR DAILY CULTURE. These teams share their daily, weekly, and monthly practices in the January 10, 2017, Round Table as winners of the nation’s top milk quality awards.

COWS DON’T JUST DIE. Death on the farm doesn’t have to be just a “fact of life” . . . we can learn from each loss.

THREE FARM MODELS, THREE COMPETITIVE OPTIONS. Conventional, grazing, and organic dairy farms can all generate profits. How each farm achieves that bottom line varies.