As printed in our June 2013 issue...

ON A 15 to 5 BIPARTISAN VOTE, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of a new farm bill. The next day, the House Ag Committee followed suit by moving forward its template on a 36 to 10 vote.

THE SENATE AND HOUSE BILLS both include the Dairy Security Act (margin insurance and market stabilization). The House Ag Committee voted down (by a 20 to 26 count) the Goodlatte-Scott amendment that would focus dairy policy solely on margin insurance.

THE FULL SENATE STARTED DEBATE on the farm bill late last month and was expected to vote by early June. Meanwhile, the House was slated to begin debate by mid-month. The Senate remained in favor of a smaller $4.1 billion, 10-year reduction in food stamps; the House, $20.5 billion.

CROP INSURANCE HAS ALSO DRAWN ATTENTION. Some politicians want to tether it with compliance to conservation programs because the government covers slightly over 60 percent of crop insurance premiums.

IMPROVED PROSPECTS for global dairy output was one of the reasons spot Cheddar cheese prices slipped nearly 20 cents in May. Blocks were at $1.74-1/2 at the magazine's close; barrels, $1.70-3/4.

AT 311 MILLION POUNDS, U.S. butter inventories stood at the highest level since October 1993. As a result, butter prices dropped 15 cents in May to $1.54. Meanwhile, global butter inventories remain in line with last year.

FEED MARGINS HAVE IMPROVED SLIGHTLY with a 1.55 Milk-Feed ratio for May. Total feed bill was $12.77, for a $7.03 income over feed cost.

NEW ZEALAND'S FONTERRA CO-OP came out with an initial projected pay price of $7 per kilogram of milk solids for 2014. When converted, that would yield about an $18.50 per hundredweight All-Milk price.

APRIL MILK FLOW ROSE by 0.2 percent over the previous year. In the West, Washington improved 1.7 percent, while six other Western states all fell. Kansas led all gainers, up 6.4 percent; Wisconsin grew 1.3.

ABOUT 90 PERCENT OF THE CORN CROP was planted by late May. Heavy rains stalled further planting and may cause growers to switch to soybeans. As a result, the future markets have remained unsettled.

CALIFORNIA'S COST OF PRODUCTION jumped 11 percent when compared to 2011. That was on top of a 15 percent spike from the previous year, reported the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

BRIEFLY: A jury acquitted a Wisconsin dairy farmer of selling products, including raw milk, without a retail license. The U.S. attained "negligible-risk status" for BSE from the World Organization for Animal Health. The designation was expected to bolster beef exports.

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