As printed in our August 25, 2012 issue...

SOME MAY ARGUE the validity of USDA's Milk-Feed Ratio. However, one thing is clear, feed prices are surging and milk checks are not keeping pace. July's 1.29 ratio is an all-time low; income over feed cost was $3.73.

THE JULY CLASS III PRICE WAS $16.68 which is $1.05 higher than the previous month. Class III futures prices for September through February climbed about 60 cents in recent weeks to an average of $19.28.

HALF OF THE NATION'S CORN was rated poor to very poor due to the continued drought, reports USDA in its August 6 Crop Progress. July went down as the hottest month on record in the lower 48 states.

THE FARM BILL REMAINS IN LIMBO as the House of Representatives left for its August recess without taking a vote on it. The version approved by the House Ag Committee and the Senate are not that far apart.

CONGRESS HAS ONLY 13 WORKING DAYS remaining before the November elections which makes completing a new farm bill unlikely. At the very least, Congress will need to pass an extension of the current farm bill by the end of September since it is set to expire.

GLOBAL DAIRY PRODUCT consumption could rise 30 percent in developing countries during the next decade, predicts OECD-FAO in its Agricultural Outlook report. Modest growth is projected in developed nations.

THE WORLD'S BUTTER AND CHEESE trade could grow by 20 to 27 percent. Economists predict that the U.S. may double cheese exports.

THE EPA WITHDREW A RULE that would have required CAFOs to submit additional data whether or not operations discharged into the U.S. waters.

SUPPORT PASTEURIZATION to protect public health. That was the message Robert Tauxe, a deputy director at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, sent to state regulators. Tauxe advocated states consider further restricting or prohibiting the sale and distribution of raw milk.

THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR could no longer severely restrict activities of young people on farms based on a bill passed in the House on a 270 to 148 vote. The measure still needs Senate approval.

U.S. CROPLAND AVERAGED $3,550 AN ACRE last year, reports USDA. That is a 14.5 percent gain from the previous year. Values skyrocketed by 31 percent in the Northern Plains and nearly 19 percent in the Corn Belt.

BRIEFLY: New Zealand's milk production was up 10.3 percent compared to the previous season. Early projections suggest milk flow will be up 2 percent over the next 12 months. Western United Dairymen submitted a petition to California's Secretary of Agriculture in early August requesting a temporary 50-cent-per-cwt. boost in all milk classes from this October to next May.

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