THE PRESENCE OF HIGHLY PATHOGENIC AVIAN INFLUENZA (HPAI) in dairy cattle continues to be monitored closely. As of April 29, a new federal order requires the testing of lactating dairy cattle before interstate movement; this includes the transport of cattle for slaughter.

SOME STATES HAVE THEIR OWN RESTRICTIONS in place. For example, Michigan recently announced that all lactating dairy cattle, and those in the last two months of pregnancy, are prohibited from being exhibited at shows until there are no new cases of HPAI in dairy cattle in the state of Michigan for at least 60 consecutive days.

EVEN WITH THE EXTRA TESTING REQUIREMENTS, USDA emphasized that the current risk to the public remains low. In addition, the virus is associated with little to no mortality among dairy cattle.

BOTH THE HOUSE AND SENATE SHARED DETAILS about their proposals for a new farm bill. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow unveiled the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act, a proposal that contains more than 100 bipartisan bills.

MEANWHILE, HOUSE AG COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN Glenn Thompson released a high-level summary of his version of the bill with a short description of each title. Committee markup of the bill is set for May 23. The 2018 Farm Bill was extended through the end of September.

CASH RECEIPTS FROM MARKETINGS OF MILK during 2023 totaled $45.9 billion, down 19.8% from 2022, according to USDA. Producer returns averaged $20.38 per cwt., 19.7% below 2022. Marketings, which include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers, totaled 225 billion pounds, down slightly from 2022.

THE SPREAD BETWEEN CLASS III AND CLASS IV PRICES remains wide. Over the past 12 months, Class III averaged $16 per cwt., while Class IV averaged nearly $19.50. That $3.50 difference makes it the largest sustained Class IV advantage since the current pricing system was launched in 2000, according to Ever.Ag’s Katie Burgess.

THE CLASS III FUTURES SHOW HOPE in the months ahead but won’t catch the Class IV price, predicted Terrain’s Ben Laine. After a rough start to the year, Class III futures are expected to improve about $3 per cwt. from current levels, as shown in the graph.

THE HIGHER FUTURES PRICES IN THE SECOND HALF of the year may not be enough to offset the challenges created by the first few months of low prices, though, noted Laine. Read more on page 255.