As printed in our March 10, 2013 issue...

JANUARY MILK ROSE 0.5 PERCENT nationwide over a year ago. Cows fell 17,000 (-0.2 percent) from last January. However, the national herd has grown three consecutive months; up 36,000 head since October.

OF THE TOP 23 DAIRY STATES, 13 expanded milk flow while 10 dropped off of last year's pace. Wisconsin grew 4.9 percent while California fell 4.3 percent. Six other Western states reduced production, too.

THERE WAS A FURTHER DROP in pick-up tanker milk samples testing positive for antibiotics . . . 542 out of 3.2 million or 0.017 percent. This represents an all-time low from last year's previous record of 0.021 percent.

IN ADDITION TO THIS ANNUAL REPORT, FDA conducted enhanced antibiotic testing last year. No timeline has been set for a final report by FDA, but some in the industry project late March at the earliest.

CLASS I OR FLUID USE in federal orders remained steady at 35 percent last year. Class II (yogurt and soft products) grew 14 percent; Class III (cheese), 39 percent; and Class IV (butter and dried products), 12 percent.

GLOBAL PRODUCT PRICES ROSE 3.1 PERCENT in late February market activity. The eight product mix climbed 7 cents to $1.70 per pound when compared to the previous trades made two weeks earlier.

STATESIDE, SPOT CHEESE BLOCKS held relatively steady in the low $1.60 range with barrels following suit. Likewise, March to September Class III futures remained consistent averaging in the mid-$17.90s.

CONSUMING RAW MILK, or products made from unpasteurized milk, was in the news again. Raw milk pushed dairy products into the top food subcategory for foodborne-illness hospitalizations during an 11-year time span.

CHINA REMAINED ON EDGE due to prior milk contamination. On February 19, New Zealand's dollar fell 1/2 cent when the Chinese destroyed 200 pounds of tainted milk powder, reported The Wall Street Journal. After Fonterra said it wasn't their product, markets quickly rebounded.

DAIRY FARMS WITH OVER 1,000 COWS, 1,730 farms total, accounted for 50 percent of milk output last year, reported the USDA. Total U.S. dairies with permits to sell milk stood at 49,331. (Complete report on page 151.)

BRIEFLY: A new farm bill could be headed to mark-up in March, stated Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) The bill has a long way to go before any chance of approval. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommended that the U.S. be upgraded to minimal risk for BSE which would benefit beef exports. Canada is prepared to give up dairy tariffs in order to gain access to EU beef, pork and auto markets, reported Ottawa's The Globe and Mail. U.S. dairy groups lauded a potential trade pact with the EU. Due to tariff and regulatory rules, the EU has a $1.2 billion dairy trade surplus with the U.S.

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