Archive for the ‘Todays Dairy News’ Category

NMPF Offers Margin Protection Slide Show

September 25, 2014 — The National Milk Producers Federation has posted a slide presentation on YouTube to help dairy farmers understand the new federal dairy safety net, known as the Margin Protection Program (MPP), as part of its ongoing effort to educate farmers about the new program.

There are links to the narrated presentation on both the NMPF website, and the Future for Dairy website serving as NMPF’s information hub for the new MPP program, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture September 2nd.

The 21-minute, 34-slide presentation walks the viewer through the details of the program, including who is eligible, how to sign up, and what the fees and payments might look like under various scenarios. Also covered are the basic concept of the program, what it replaces, and how it compares to the previous dairy safety net. This narrated presentation is a video file to accompany a more basic, slides-only version already available online.

“Dairy farmers are now making their decisions on participation in the new program,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern, who narrates the slide presentation. “Along with other tools NMPF has developed, this presentation should help them make the best choices for their individual circumstances.”

Meanwhile, dairy producers attending next week’s World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, can find out what they need to know about the new dairy safety net at a special, 90-minute briefing set for Thursday morning, October 2nd.

Sponsored by NMPF, the briefing will feature Mulhern along with noted University of Missouri dairy economist Scott Brown. It will start at 8:30 a.m. in Mendota Room No. 4, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

The briefing is titled “Covering Your Assets: Why Farmers Need to Enroll in the Margin Protection Program.” In addition to the briefing and the narrated slide presentation available through and, NMPF has produced a five-page written summary of the new program, and an online calculator to help farmers select their coverage levels.

The new dairy safety net was included in the 2014 farm bill. It allows producers to protect their margin – the difference between milk prices and feed costs – rather than supporting milk prices.

Producers have until November 28th to sign up for the program for the remainder of 2014, all of 2015, or both.

Dairy Cows Delaying “Retirement”

September 25, 2014 — Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.80 billion pounds in August, down 10 percent from the 4.20 billion pounds produced in August 2013, according to the Agriculture Department’s Livestock Slaughter report issued this afternoon.

Beef production, at 2.02 billion pounds, was 10 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.50 million head, down 11 percent from August 2013. The average live weight was up 19 pounds from the previous year, at 1,329 pounds.

Veal production totaled 7.1 million pounds, 22 percent below August a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 43,600 head, down 32 percent from August 2013. The average live weight was up 37 pounds from last year, at 277 pounds.

January to August 2014 commercial red meat production totaled 31.2 billion pounds, down 4 percent from 2013. Accumulated beef production was down 6 percent from last year, High milk prices and low feed prices are keeping dairy cows in the milking string. An estimated 229,000 dairy cows were slaughtered under Federal inspection in August, down 3,000 head from July and 37,000 below August 2013.    Looking at the first eight months of 2014, USDA estimates that 1.85 million head were “retired” from the dairy business, 233,000 head less than the same period a year ago.

August Milk Production Under the Microscope

September 22, 2014 — Analyzing Friday afternoon’s August Milk Production report data more closely, California milk production was up 1.4 percent on a 30 pound gain per cow although cow numbers were off 2,000 head. Wisconsin was up 1.2 percent, thanks to a 25 gain per cow but cow numbers were down 2,000 as well. Idaho was up 3.1 percent, thanks to a 40 pound gain per cow and 6,000 more cows. New York was up 2.7 percent on a 35 pound gain per cow and 5,000 more cows. Pennsylvania inched 0.6 percent higher on a 20 pound gain per cow but cow numbers were down 3,000 head. Minnesota was up 0.5 percent on a 25 pound gain per cow but cow numbers were down 5,000 from a year ago.

Oregon was the only state showing a decrease. The biggest gain was in Florida, up 8.4 percent, and Colorado, up 8 percent. From there we go to Michigan, up 6.7 percent on a 65 pound gain per cow and 13,000 more cows. Texas was next, up 6.2 percent on 30,000 more cows, though output per cow was down 10 pounds. Two other states we watch; New Mexico was up 2.7 percent on a 35 pound gain per cow and 5,000 more cows. Washington State was up 2.4 percent, thanks to 20 pounds more per cow and 4,000 more cows than a year ago.

Milk Production Report Fed the Bears or the Bulls?    High Ground Dairy’s Eric Meyer takes up that discussion in his Monday analysis of Friday’s August Milk Production report. He points out that, after a mild July and continued increases in milk cows took production close to the 4 per cent year-over-year growth mark, a more seasonally temperate August against a very mild month in 2013 only managed to achieve 2.5 per cent production growth this past month.

   While some may argue these results were bullish, we believe production was right in line with our expectations when looking at last year’s comparison and its anomaly against the rest of 2013. Unless the milking herd does not continue increasing (in this report, Aug DECLINED versus July’s revised figure), we fully expect a return to the 3.5 to 4 per cent (or higher) growth trend through AT LEAST the remainder of 2014 and quote possibly into Q1 2015.

As mentioned above, we are a bit concerned about the lack of monthly herd growth in August as USDA published 1,000 head declines in both the All-US and 23 selected state herd tallies from July. But we struggle to get to a monthly herd loss when looking at recent dairy cow slaughter data. During July ’14, dairy cow slaughter was 232,000 head, down 7.6 per cent from July ’13. And based on weekly dairy cow slaughter volumes published by USDA in August, the four week total from 4 Aug through the 30th, 216,500 dairy cows were culled which was a decline of 9.7 per cent from Aug ’13.

   We suspect that USDA will be busy revising August’s milking herd HIGHER as they have over the past five months.    To read more of Meyer’s analysis, write him at


August Milk Production Up 2.6%

September 19, 2014 — The Agriculture Department’s preliminary data issued this afternoon in its latest Milk Production report, shows August milk output in the top 23 producing states at 16.18 billion pounds, up 2.6 percent from August 2013. The 50-state total, at 17.22 billion pounds, was up 2.5 percent from a year ago.

Revisions reduced the original July 23-state estimate by 1 million pounds, now reported at 16.4 billion pounds, up 4 percent from a year ago.    August cow numbers in the 23 states, at 8.58 million head, down 1,000 from July but  60,000 more head than a year ago. The 50-State count, at 9.28 million head, is down 1,000 from July but 47,000 more than a year ago.

August output per cow in the 23 states averaged 1,885 pounds, down 26 pounds from July, but 35 pounds above August 2013, and the highest production per cow for the month of August since the 23 State series began in 2003.

Selected state data is posted below:

State          Cow #s                      Milk lbs./Cow        State Change vs.’13                    2013         2014            2013  2014

Arizona       188,000   193,000       1,830  1,860         +4.4%
California    1.78 mil    1.78             1,910 1,940         +1.4%
Colorado    137,000    145,000        2,095 2,135        +8.0%
Florida        123,000    123,000       1,459 1,570         +8.4%
Idaho          573,000    579,000       2,060  2,100        +3.1%
Illinois           97,000     95,000        1,550  1,580        Unchanged
Indiana       177,000    179,000       1,810  1,875        +5.0%
Iowa           208,000    208,000       1,850  1,860        +0.5%
Kansas       135,000    142,000       1,790  1,805        +5.8%
Mich.          381,000    394,000        2,050  2,115       +6.7%
Minn.          465,000   460,000        1,635  1,660        +0.5%
N Mex.        324,000   323,000        2,015  2,100       +3.8%
New York    610,000   615,000       1,885  1,920        +2.7%
Ohio            271,000   266,000       1,680  1,735        +1.5%
Oregon       123,000   123,000        1,750  1,740        -0.5% P
enn.          533,000   530,000        1,660  1,680       +0.6%
S Dakota       95,000    97,000        1,835  1,855        +3.4%
Texas          440,000   470,000       1,795  1,785        +6.2%
Utah              92,000     95,000       1,915  1,925        +4.0%
Vermont      135,000   132,000       1,630  1,725        +3.6%
Virginia          95,000    93,000        1,490  1,580        +3.5%
Wash.         268,000  272,000         2,040  2,060        +2.4%
Wisconsin   1.272 mil 1.27 mil         1,835  1,860       +1.2%

HighGround Dairy’s Eric Meyer points out in his initial analysis of the report that “August 2013 was extremely mild which brought exceptional milk production against challenging conditions for dairy producers. August 2014 brought normal summer heat to much of the country. These numbers were in line with HighGround’s expectations and we expect a return to the trend (+3.5% to 4% or more) in September.”


Doing the Math on Margin Protection

September 17, 2014 — Dairy analyst Bob Devenport with Stewart-Peterson, Inc. , joined us on today’s DairyLine to share more information about the new Margin Protection Program. Listen to the full interview here:


Bleeding Slowing in Global Dairy Trade?

September 16, 2014 — Today’s Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction saw the weighted average for all products unchanged, following the 6% plunge in the September 2 event, 0.6% decline August 19, 8.4% loss August 5, and 8.9% in session before that.

Powder was up fractionally today, rennet casein was up 1.3%, following a drop last time of 14.3%, while all other offered products were down. The price index has pretty much seen declines since reaching its high on February 4.

The downfall this week was led by a 6.9% drop in buttermilk powder, down 12.9% last time, and Cheddar cheese was down 6.5%, following a 4.9% loss last time. Butter was next, down 2.5% today, following a 5.6% loss in the September 2 event, and anhydrous milkfat was down 2.2%, after a 5.8% drop last time.

Skim milk powder was up 0.9%, following a 9.5% plunge in the last event, and whole milk powder was up 0.6%, after a 4.3% loss last time.

FC Stone reports the average GDT butter price equated to about $1.2236/lb. U.S., down from $1.2489/lb. in the September 2 event ($1.1869/lb. on 80% butterfat, down from $1.2185/lb.). Contrast that to CME butter which closed this morning at yet another record high of $3.0025/lb. The GDT Cheddar cheese average was $1.3959/lb. U.S., down from $1.4853/lb. The U.S. block Cheddar CME price closed today at $2.3950/lb. GDT skim milk powder, at $1.1880/lb. U.S., is up from $1.1792/lb., and the whole milk powder average at $1.2211/lb. U.S., is up from $1.2122/lb. in the last event. The CME Grade A nonfat dry milk price closed this morning at $1.3350/lb.

Source: GDT & INTL FCStone
Read more:

$3 Butter a 50/50 Chance

September 12, 2014 — $3 Butter is a 50/50 Chanceaccording to Jerry Dryer, editor of the Dairy and Food Market Analyst, in Friday’s DairyLine. Dryer laughed when asked about Penn State’s Jim Dunn referencing the dairy market as “schizophrenic” in the last month. Dryer said “It’s more a case of indecision, as things haven’t solidly registered yet and we’re starting to get resistance at these price levels.”    Dryer reported that commercial butter disappearance in the three months ending July 31 was down for the first time in a very long time “as these prices are starting to take a little toll.” Retail sales are down from a year ago, as well, he said, and exports would be off if it weren’t for the CWT program.

Cheese has some similarities, according to Dryer, although cheese consumption has been very strong in the U.S., up almost 4 percent in that May, June, July period. Exports were up about 20 percent, he said, but earlier in the year they were running 50-70 percent above a year ago, “so we’re getting pushback on exports and there’s more of that on the way.” The Russian ban has resulted in the Europeans “shopping for other homes for their cheese,” he said, “And the USA happens to be in their sights.”

When asked if China will bail out the world dairy market, Dryer answered, “No, but they’re going to make a really good effort.” His just released long range forecast predicts demand will remain very strong and, as prices weaken, demand will pick up even more but milk production is just simply going to overwhelm demand for the next several months.”

House Bill Blocks EPA’s Latest Attack on Ag

September 9, 2014 — The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, by a vote of 262-152. This FrankLucaslegislation prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing and enforcing a proposed rule that would redefine “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, or using the rule as a basis for future administrative actions. It is the authority of Congress, not the administration, to change the scope of the Clean Water Act. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement after the bill was passed:

I am pleased the House approved this bipartisan, commonsense bill to block the EPA from expanding its control of our nation’s land and water resources. 

“Whether it’s trying to regulate farm dust out of existence, milk as oil, or now treat ditches like major water tributaries, the EPA has demonstrated a hunger for power and a lack of understanding of how its actions impact America’s farmers and ranchers. The agency’s latest action would trigger an onslaught of additional permitting and regulatory requirements for our agricultural producers to protect not our great natural resources, but rather our backyard ponds. 

“It is an underhanded way to harm American agriculture and threaten America’s food security. I urge Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring H.R. 5078 to the floor for swift Senate passage,”

Cash Butter Soars to $2.99

September 9, 2014 – The cash butter price at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange set another record today, rising another three cents to $2.99 per pound. It’s the highest cash price ever on the CME. The price sky rocketed 11.5 cents Monday.

“There seems to be a little bit of a panic out there as far as pricing goes,” said FC Stone’s Chris Hildebrand. “We do continue to see higher prices in the face of shorter supplies.”

The cash butter price was $2.40 per pound at the beginning of August and steadily increased to $2.7750 to start the month of September.

NMPF Launches Online Calculator to Help Farmers Select Coverage Levels

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Milk Producers Federation today launched an online, downloadable calculator to help farmers select coverage levels under the new federal dairy safety net, known as the Margin Protection Program for dairy (MPP). The calculator is located at

The calculator allows farmers to enter their own milk production and commodity price data to gauge the new program’s likely impact on their operations. It complements a similar tool created by a consortium of land grant universities that is available through the Agriculture Department website.

A key difference between the two tools is that NMPF’s is available both online, and as a downloadable Excel file. Also, while the USDA tool is pre-programmed with market forecasts from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the NMPF tool allows farmers to input their own projections for milk as well as corn, soybean meal and alfalfa hay prices.

“Dairy farmers must make some important decisions in the coming weeks about how best to use the new insurance program,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “This calculator, along with the other informational tools that NMPF has prepared, will help them learn about the program and make the best choices for the future.”

The calculator and other tools are available at, which is serving as NMPF’s information hub for the Margin Protection Program, as well as at

NMPF was instrumental in crafting the new safety net over the last five years. It developed the program after extensive discussions with farmers in 2009 and 2010 and then worked with Congress to include the plan in the 2014 farm bill. More recently, NMPF worked closely with the Agriculture Department on implementation issues for the program.

USDA formally unveiled the MPP in August. A three-month sign up period opened September 2, with farmers having until Nov. 28th to obtain coverage either for the remainder of 2014, all of calendar year 2015, or both.

The new safety net helps protect against the kind of catastrophic losses many dairy farmers experienced in 2009 and again in 2012 by limiting volatility in producer margins caused by either low milk prices, high feed costs or a combination of both.

Producers will insure their operations on a sliding scale, deciding both how much of their milk production to cover and how much of a margin to protect. Basic margin insurance at $4 per hundredweight is available for a $100 registration fee. Above the $4 level, a premium is required.

The NMPF online MPP calculator comes with a printable instruction manual.

NMPF also is preparing a narrated slide presentation to walk through the entire MPP program. That video presentation will be available next week, also at

The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the well-being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of more than 32,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies. Visit for more information.