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

ROBUST WORLD DAIRY PRICES have caused futures markets in the states to move upward. From March 11 to 26, April-to-October Class III futures rose by an average of 40 cents to settle in the mid-$18.65 range.

AS THIS OCCURRED, spot Cheddar cheese blocks at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange climbed nearly 9 cents to $1.69-1/2 per pound.

WORLD PRICES MOVED SHARPLY in reaction to the worst drought faced by New Zealand's North Island in 30 years. Due to short feed supplies, culling activity was over 50 percent higher than the five-year average.

IN GLOBAL DAIRY TRADING, the eight-product mix has moved 10 and nearly 15 percent higher during market activity that took place in each of the last two weeks. Overall, prices averaged $2.12 per pound.

STRONG DOMESTIC INVENTORIES are expected to temper U.S. markets to some degree. Cheese stocks grew by 5 percent in February when compared to the same time last year. Butter was 17 percent higher.

MAILBOX MILK PRICES AVERAGED $18.59 per hundredweight last year. That was the third highest level since 1995. August to December mailboxes were $20.65; January to July netted $17.24. For more, see page 240.

FEBRUARY MILK WAS BASICALLY EVEN nationally when adjusted for leap year. This will be the final monthly Milk Production report for the fiscal year. See our Editorial Comment on page 244 for more details.

THE LARGEST FEBRUARY REDUCTION occurred in California, down 4.7 percent (adjusted for leap year); then Arizona, down 3.5. Meanwhile, Wisconsin grew by 3.9 percent, and Kansas led all gainers, up 7.5 percent.

CALIFORNIA CONTINUES TO FACE some of the nation's highest feed prices which represented 64 to 68 percent of all costs last year, estimated the state's ag department. Those expenses were $11.72 to $12.48 per cwt.

MILK IN FEDERAL ORDERS totaled 122 billion pounds in 2012. That total was down 3.7 percent from the previous year. When combined with California's state order, nearly 82 percent of all milk is subject to order provisions.

DFA SETTLED A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT brought forth by cheese buyers related to trading activity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. In the $46-million settlement, the co-op admitted no wrongdoing.

BRIEFLY: Genetic evaluations would move from USDA to the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding via a nonfunded cooperative agreement inked by the office of the Secretary of Agriculture in late March. FDA petition to allow non-nutritive sweeteners in milk to face an uphill battle as 27,000-plus comments have been filed, most against Immigration reform has gained support in Senate.

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