As printed in our February 10, 2012 issue...

FDA BEGAN ENHANCED ANTIBIOTIC sampling in January. It plans to finish the project by mid-September. Officials expect to release a report by year's end, but only after first showing it to industry stakeholders.

DECEMBER MILK GREW 2.5 percent from 2010. The U.S. herd was 9.221 million head, the highest since June 2009. Only four states in the top 23 reduced December milk flow. We had 12,000 more cows than in November.

CALIFORNIA WAS UP 3.8 percent and Wisconsin up 2.6; Idaho, 3.7; and New York, 0.2. Indiana led all gainers, up 6.3 percent in December.

AN $18.70 ALL-MILK PRICE for 2012 was the recent USDA estimate. Strong whey price projections could enhance overall Class III payout.

BY A 9-0 VERDICT, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that sought to keep nonambulatory animals out of the food supply. The court noted that states may not impose regulations stiffer than federal laws.

HAY PRICES WILL REMAIN ROBUST. Last year's crop was the lowest alfalfa and alfalfa-mix harvest since 1959, stated USDA. The 65.3 million tons of alfalfa came from 19.2 million acres, the fewest since 1949.

TOP-QUALITY ALFALFA has ranged from $250 to $350 per ton. The continued drought in southern Great Plains is drawing down supplies.

THE 2011 CORN SILAGE HARVEST climbed 2 percent when compared to the previous year. USDA estimated yields were 18.4 tons per acre, down 0.9 ton from 2010. However, total acres harvested rose 6 percent.

FINAL CORN CROP ESTIMATE was 12.4 billion bushels. The latest USDA numbers were higher than most experts expected and cooled prices.

STRONG HEIFER INVENTORIES and high beef prices continue to bolster dairy culling. For the year, dairy slaughter totaled 2.91 million head, the most since 1997. That total is 107,000 more than the previous year.

AT $434.2 MILLION, U.S. dairy exports reached a record high in November, up 45 percent from a year ago. Year-to-date exports totaled $4.4 billion.

NEW ZEALAND'S FONTERRA broke a previous record for monthly dairy exports with 246,000 tons of product loaded on ships in December. The shipments boosted the Kiwi economy by $1.3 billion for the month.

DAIRY CATEGORY GROWTH POTENTIAL for the next decade exceeds that of the next two categories combined: bakery and chilled processed foods, forecasted PepsiCo's Sam Lteif at IDFA gathering.

BRIEFLY: Corn that resists 2,4-D is being reviewed by USDA; it would be the first crop designed to resist a herbicide other than glyphosate. Dean Foods and Kraft Foods, two of the nation's top four dairy processors, made significant job cuts in early January.

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