As printed in our May 25, 2013 issue...

BOTH DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL dairy prices have softened slightly from recent highs. May-to-December Class III futures fell over 50 cents since early May and settled at an $18.45 average.

CME CHEDDAR BLOCKS PEAKED at $1.91-1/2 on May 6 and slipped to $1.84-1/2 which was still strong compared to early-in-the-year trading. The spread between blocks and barrels remained over 12 cents.

FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE DECEMBER, the eight-product mix traded lower at New Zealand's Global Dairy Trade. Improved weather conditions in major dairy export countries have eased potential supply concerns.

USDA'S FIRST 2014 ALL-MILK PRICE FORECAST ranged from $18.85 to $19.95. Since January, it raised the 2013 estimate by 50 cents to $19.75.

MILC PAYMENTS HELD UP BY SEQUESTRATION will be mailed shortly. The following payouts are projected (per cwt.): October, $0.02; January, $0.12; February, $0.52; March,$0.76; April, $0.56; and May, $0.16.

MARCH U.S. DAIRY EXPORTS were just shy of May 2012's monthly record of $500 million. Despite robust sales, many analysts had projected higher sales given slowed March and April production in Europe and Oceania.

THE FARM BILL WAS SLATED for a bill drafting session in the Senate on May 14 with the House to start its markup on the next day. Both chambers have planned to include the Dairy Security Act for dairy portion.

A BILL TO BRING CALIFORNIA PAY PRICES into closer alignment with Class III prices in Federal Milk Marketing Orders remained alive after an assembly vote. However, it was stripped of most meaningful reforms.

CULLING REMAINED AHEAD of last year's pace as 1.09 million dairy cows were sent to packing plants through April; that was up 5 percent.

FOR THE 21ST STRAIGHT YEAR, cheese posted a new, year-over-year record. Total 2012 U.S. cheese output was 10.9 million pounds. Wisconsin accounted for 25.6 percent of all cheese; California 20.6 percent. Among varieties, Mozzarella garnered 32.8 percent market share; Cheddar, 28.4.

AT 1.86 BILLION POUNDS, last year's butter make rose 2.8 percent over 2011. That output also stood second to 1941's all-time record of 1.87 billion.

BRIEFLY: The U.S. milk supply averaged 3.72 percent butterfat last year, a new modern-era record. There were 1,288 dairy product plants in the U.S. last year, up 163 over the last five years. April's Milk-Feed ratio improved to nearly match January's 1.57. For more, see page 368. A $10 million USDA grant to study and accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects was awarded to University of Wisconsin-Madison. Six other universities will assist.

Click here to see the previous months Washington Dairygrams