As printed in our April 25, 2011 issue...

BENCHMARK CLASS III PRICE jumped to $19.40 for March, up $2.40 from February. Highest since June 2008's $20.25. California's 4b price (also for cheese milk) was $16.76. Class IV price for March was $19.41, up $1.01.

TOTAL CHEESE OUTPUT in February was up 4.1 percent from 2010; butter was up 6.4. Cheese production was up slightly from January on a daily basis.

CASH CHEESE HOVERING in the $1.60-a-pound range. Butter price was below $2 a pound for the first time in 2 months. Milk powders steady to strong.

DIRECT PAYMENTS and crop insurance subsidies targeted by budget cutters. House budget committee would cut $30 billion from expected $150 billion over 10 years. Administration's plan would cut $3 billion during same period.

MARCH MILK-FEED PRICE RATIO rose to 2.18. Income over feed cost was $11.04 (highest since June 2008). Had been $9.01 in February. March prices and costs used: Milk, $20.40; corn, $5.46; soybeans, $12.10; alfalfa, $136.

CORN FUTURES TOPPED $7.80. Stocks just 5 percent of annual demand. Corn growers intend to plant 92.2 million acres, up 5 percent from last year. Soybean farmers intend to plant 76.6 million acres, down 1 percent from last year.

NEW YORK DAIRY FARMER ARRESTED by Immigration and Customs officials and Homeland Security agents for alleged employment of undocumented workers. Could face as much as 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

THREE PROCESSOR GROUPS making up Int'l. Dairy Foods Assn. (cheese and ice cream makers and bottlers) oppose National Milk's Foundation for the Future. Against occasional milk supply limits and complexity of FFTF.

BRIEFLY: Dairy cow slaughter running 66,000 head or about 10 percent above last year as of mid-March. Both FDA and EPA say there was no cause for concern about radioactive iodine in U.S. West Coast milk. U.S.-Columbia free trade pact more likely. In 2010, Columbia purchased U.S. dairy products worth about $6 million. Expect struggle on Hill over EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under Clean Air Act. Some propose ag be exempt from any regulations. Output of some major Japanese dairy plants off 75 percent or more due to rolling electrical blackouts. USDA soon to offer grants and loan guarantees for installation of expensive blender pumps so more gas stations can provide E85 (ethanol-based fuel).

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