Archive for the ‘Government Reports’ Category

August FO Benchmark Milk Price $4.34 Above Year Ago

September 4, 2014 — The Agriculture Department announced the August Federal order Class III benchmark milk price this afternoon at $22.25 per hundredweight, up 65 cents from July, $4.34 above August 2013, $2.29 above the comparable California 4b cheese milk price, and equates to about $1.91 per gallon. And, there’s more to come next month as the September futures contract settled today at $24.22 before heading back down in its seasonal descent.

The 2014 Class III average now stands at $22.49, up from $17.72 at this time a year ago and $16.23 in 2012.    Looking beyond September, the October contract settled at $22.63; November, $20.74; and December, $19.66. That would result in a 2014 average of $22.26, up from $17.99 in 2013 and $17.44 in 2012.

The August Class IV price is $23.89, up 11 cents from July and $4.82 above a year ago. The Class IV eight-month average now stands at $23.28, up from $18.37 a year ago and $14.95 in 2012.

The four-week, NDSPR-surveyed cheese price average used to calculate this month’s Class prices was $2.1074 per pound, up 5.9 cents from July. Butter averaged $2.5206, up 17.3 cents. Nonfat dry milk averaged $1.7887, down 7.3 cents, and dry whey averaged 68.80 cents per pound, down fractionally. Meanwhile, cash butter set a new record high of $2.84 per pound this morning in Chicago.

New Risk Management Tool Helps Protect Margins

September 1, 2014 — There’s a new tool to play with in your risk management toolbox. John Newton, assistant clinical professor at the University of Illinois,  helped create a new web based tool for dairy producers so they can get a better understanding of how the new Margin Protection Program works. He explains in part one of this two part radio segment:



August Milk-Feed Ratio Up on Higher Milk Price/Lower Feed

August 29, 2014 — The preliminary August milk feed price ratio was up from the revised July level, according to the Agriculture Department’s latest Ag Prices report issued Thursday afternoon. The August milk-feed price ratio is at 2.55, up from 2.36 in July, and compares to 1.68 in August 2013.

The index is based on the current milk price in relationship to feed prices for a ration of 51% corn, 8% soybeans and 41% alfalfa hay, in other words, 1lb. of milk today can purchase 2.55lbs. of dairy feed containing that blend.

The July U.S. average all-milk price was $23.70/cwt., up from $23.30/cwt. in July, and compares to $19.60/cwt. in August 2013.

August corn, at $3.70/bushel, was down 35¢ from July and $2.51 less than August 2013. Soybeans averaged $12.20/bushel, down 90¢ from July, and $1.90/bushel below August 2013, and alfalfa hay averaged $209/ton, down $7 from July, but $10/ton more than August 2013.

Looking at the cow side of the ledger; the report shows the preliminary August cull price for beef and dairy combined averaged $121.00/cwt., up $6/cwt. from July, and $37.10/cwt. above August 2013.

Prices received for milk cows was not available for August but averaged $1970 per head in July.

You have 13 Weeks to Sign up

August 29, 2014 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the official startup of the Farm Bill’s new Dairy Title, the Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program (MPP), in a media conference call this morning. He and one of the Bill’s champions, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, emphasized how the program was designed to help “small to medium size dairy operations” by protecting dairy margins as opposed to previous programs designed more to protect prices.    Signup will run September 2, 2014 to November 28, 2014 for the last four months of 2014 and all of calendar year 2015. Future signups will run July 1-September 30 and the next available signup will not be until the summer of 2015. Details are available from local Farm Service Administrative offices and State University Extensions. Vilsack also pointed to an online program at or    A National Milk press release adds there is a $100 sign-up fee for each calendar year, which qualifies a farmer to receive free, basic margin insurance coverage. Once farmers pay that fee, they are enrolled in the MPP for its duration, through 2017, and must annually pay at least the $100 fee.

The MPP allows farmers to protect the margin between milk prices and feed costs. Producers will insure their margins on a sliding scale, and must decide annually both how much of their milk production to cover (from 25% up to 90%), and the level of margin they wish to protect.

Basic coverage, at a margin of $4 per hundredweight, is offered at no cost. Above the $4 margin level, coverage is available in 50-cent increments; up to $8 per cwt. Premiums are fixed for five years, but will be discounted by 25% in 2014 and 2015, for annual farm production volumes up to 4 million pounds. Premium rates are higher at production levels above 4 million pounds.

“Importantly,” says NMPF, “USDA agreed with NMPF that the lower premiums will apply to the first 4 million pounds of a farm’s enrolled annual milk production, regardless of the farm’s total production. For example, a farm with an annual production history of 8 million pounds that elects to cover 50% of its production history would pay the lower rate on all 4 million pounds enrolled in the program. Farmers will be able to change their coverage (the percentage of milk insured, as well as margin level) on an annual basis, with USDA establishing a 90-day enrollment window of July 1-Sept. 30 each year after 2014.”

The MPP’s margin definition is the national all-milk price, minus national average feed costs, computed by a formula NMPF developed using the prices of corn, soybean meal, and alfalfa hay. Farms in the program will be assigned a production history consisting of their highest milk production in either 2011, 2012 or 2013. A farm’s production history will increase each year after the farm first signs up based on the average growth in national milk production. Any production expansion on an individual farm above the national average cannot be insured.

When the margins announced by USDA for the consecutive two-month periods of Jan.-Feb., Mar.-Apr., May-June, etc., fall below the margin protection level selected by the producer (from $8/cwt. down to $4), the program will pay farmers the difference on one-sixth (or two months’ worth) of their production history at the percentage of coverage they elected to insure. Premiums must be paid either in full at sign-up, or 25% by February 1, with the remaining 75% balance to be paid by June 1. NMPF had urged USDA to provide greater flexibility on producer premium payment, such as through milk check deductions.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said; “While USDA advised us they did not have time to set up such a system for the initial launch of MPP, we will continue to work with the department in an effort to modify this feature for future years. The new Margin Protection Program is more flexible, comprehensive and equitable than any safety net program dairy farmers have had in the past,” Mulhern said. “It is risk management for the 21st century, and we strongly encourage farmers to invest in using it going forward.”

A second part of the MPP is a dairy product donation program that is triggered when margins collapse. The program purchases dairy products to give to food banks and, unlike the previous Dairy Price Support Program, does not store dairy products but purchases them to give away. The program also provides export and marketing incentives.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern stated in his teleconference that this bill represents “four years of consensus building” and that he is “pleased with the result,” but added “there’s still more work ahead.” He said the biggest focus now is outreach to farmers to help them understand and use this new program and NMPF will develop a variety of tools to that end.

Lots of MPP Help is Available

The latest posting on the FarmDocDaily website looks at the announcement of the new Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy Producers. The program is effective September 1, 2014 and dairy farmers may enroll beginning September 2, 2014.

To aid dairy operators in the decision process the U.S. Department of Agricultural, Farm Service Agency, the University of Illinois as the lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education (NCPE), and the National Program on Dairy Markets and Policy[1] (DMaP) partnered to develop a web-based decision support tool for MPP and the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy (LGM-Dairy) insurance program.[2] DMaP has a 30-year history in the development of decision aids and producer outreach initiatives related to the dairy industry and dairy farm risk management. Working with NCPE, DMaP has taken the lead role in developing the MPP and LGM-Dairy decision tool.

As a culmination of this effort, DMaP has introduced the MPP Decision Tool to help dairy farmers and other interested parties make key coverage decisions for the MPP and LGM-Dairy programs.

Access to the MPP Decision Tool, and other educational material, is available at the following websites:

A brochure identifying the features of the MPP Decision Tool is available here: brochure.

The MPP Decision Tool was designed to be easy to use and is optimized to run on all electronic devices including home PC, smart phones, and tablets using Windows, iOS, and Android operating systems. Additionally, only one data point is need from the dairy producer to use the decision tool for the MPP decision. The only data point needed is the dairy operation’s production history.

Dairy farmers can use the MPP Decision Tool in as few as 4 clicks of the mouse:

Click 1: What is Your Production History? The dairy operation’s production history is defined as the maximum calendar year milk production during 2011, 2012, and 2013. This is the only data point needed in order to generate unique MPP Decision Tool results with respect to MPP. The decision tool includes a downloadable form to help determine production history.

Click 2: Evaluate MPP Margin Forecast. Each day price forecasts of the dairy production margin are generated using CME Group futures market data. This information is used to forecast the probability of MPP payments for all 126 coverage options for the coverage year.

Click 3: Select a Coverage Level Threshold and Coverage Level Percentage. Different coverage options reflect a producer’s ability to generate different margin levels (from $4 to $8 per hundredweight) and different coverage percentages (from 25% to 90%).

Click 4: Print Registration Forms. Tool users can elect a coverage level and coverage percentage and then print their farm-specific USDA FSA registration forms directly from the MPP Decision Tool. Alternatively, users on a mobile device can generate a PDF file displaying their coverage options selected from within the MPP Decision Tool.

After this 4-step process dairy farm operators can easily view and print for all 126 coverage options: (i) the total premium costs and administrative fee; (ii) forecast MPP payments to be made during the coverage year; and (iii) net MPP benefits (defined as the MPP payment minus the premium and administrative fee).

To highlight the risk management approach that needs to occur during the registration and coverage modification process, dairy farmers using the MPP Decision Tool have the ability to analyze historical U.S. milk and feed prices. This feature is for research purposes only, but provides the opportunity for dairy farmers to go back in time to determine how MPP would have worked as a risk management instrument had it been in place during prior years.

For dairy operators who seek to use their own expectations of milk, feed, and margin price risk the MPP Decision Tool will soon include an Advanced interface that will allow dairy operations to self-select all 48 milk and feed prices to determine how MPP may function to smooth dairy production margins.

With respect to LGM-Dairy, the MPP Decision Tool makes moving between MPP and LGM-Dairy a one-click solution. MPP Decision Tool users simply click the “MPP” or “LGM” option to toggle between the two web interfaces. The MPP Decision Tool incorporates the award winning LGM-Dairy Analyzer ©.  LGM-Dairy Analyzer © is the sole software system available that allows dairy farm operators and insurance providers to examine forthcoming insurance contract offerings and anticipated premium costs.  LGM-Dairy Analyzer © is used extensively by insurance providers and dairy farm operators across the U.S.

DMaP, as a partner with NCPE looks forward to serving all of America’s dairy producers by providing timely and accurate analysis of risk management options. To complement this effort, DMaP will host five Train-the-Trainer workshops across the U.S beginning September 9, 2014 (see Train the Trainer). Additionally, members of the DMaP team and other educators and trainers will conduct meetings geared to dairy farmers to help them learn to use this exciting new tool (see State Meetings).

As part of the educational effort DMaP will soon release a series of online materials including web videos, PowerPoints, printed materials, and links to other online 2014 Farm Bill decision tools. This material will provide farmers with MPP specific information such as: (i) learning how to calculate their own dairy production margin; (ii) learning how MPP dairy can be integrated into the existing suite of risk management options; and (iii) evaluating unexpected risks in milk and feed markets.

These DMaP educational materials are designed to be flexible to the schedule of the dairy operator or educator. Producers and educators can access the educational materials on their own schedule and needs; additionally, farmers and educators can refer back to these materials as a reference. Links to the supplementary educational material and Train the Trainer Event registration can be found online at:

The MPP Decision Tool uses innovative and new peer-reviewed price forecasting techniques to provide dairy farmers with timely market information on milk and feed price probabilities to help with the MPP and LGM-Dairy decisions (Bozic, Newton, Thraen, and Gould 2014).

The MPP Decision Tool provides dairy farmers the opportunity to use farm specific milk production variables in conjunction with daily futures prices on milk and feed as part of the consideration for coverage-level choices under MPP and LGM-Dairy. The MPP Decision Tool calculates USDA commodity price estimates and then uses historical correlations among milk and feed prices in a simulation to estimate the financial returns from MPP for farmer-selected coverage options.

With respect to LGM-Dairy, the MPP Decision Tool includes the LGM-Dairy Analyzer © software. LGM-Dairy Analyzer © incorporates the insurance program structure and data obtained from futures markets to provide a farm-level evaluation of the risk management capabilities of the LGM-Dairy program.

The 2014 Farm Bill provides the most comprehensive reform to the U.S. federal dairy farm safety net seen in decades. In place of milk price and revenue support programs the 2014 Farm Bill creates the Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers. MPP is a voluntary program which places an emphasis on protecting dairy production margins.  MPP protects against severe downturns in the milk price, rising livestock feed prices, or a combination of both.

MPP is a flexible program that allows a dairy operator to self-select coverage options to protect the farm against declines in national average production margins. Different coverage options reflect a producer’s ability to protect different margin levels (from $4 to $8 per hundredweight) and different coverage percentages (from 25% to 90%).

To assist in the MPP decision process DMaP has developed a decision tool and companion educational materials in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency and the University of Illinois led National Coalition for Producer Education.

Margin Protection Program Survey Participants Sought

August 27. 2014 — USDA’s Margin Protection Program is only weeks away from being implemented. An important question remains unanswered – how much do dairy producers know about this program, and how many plan to participate? Dairy economists Dr. Marin Bozic (University of Minnesota) and Dr. Chris Wolf (Michigan State University) are conducting a national survey of dairy producers opinions of the new program. Let’s help them inform us better by completing this survey:

The survey will take you about four minutes to complete, and then you can choose to play an interactive ‘choice experiment’ and may win one $1,000 and three $500 participation awards.  Please spread the word about this survey by posting information about it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as newsletters.

On Twitter, you may simply retweet this tweet:
Read more:

Listen to Dr. Bozic’s interview on Wednesday’s DairyLine Radio broadcast:


CDC Opposes New Milk Pricing Bill

TURLOCK, CA (August 25, 2014) — California Dairy Campaign (CDC) President Joe Augusto called upon members of the California State Legislature to vote against AB 2730 CDCintroduced by Assembly Member Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, and State Senator Christine Galgiani, D-Stockton, and put forward by California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross that would call for a sweeping and unprecedented overhaul of dairy producer pricing in the state.

“Few have seen the final language of CDFA Secretary Ross’s bill, AB 2730, and that is by design,” CDC President Joe Augusto explained. “Secretary Ross is waiting until the final days of the California State Legislative Session to introduce a bill that would eliminate milk pricing regulations that dairy producers rely upon as a lifeline when prices drop,” he added. “When this issue was discussed and debated years ago, a CDFA study concluded that deregulation as called for in AB 2730 would shift virtually all risk to producers and it is just shameful that years later she is attempting to gut our minimum pricing laws in such an underhanded way.”

AB 2730 would eliminate minimum pricing and pooling regulations on the largest Class of milk, Class 4 totaling approximately 80 percent of all milk produced in the state. California is the top milk producing state in the nation and such dramatic regulatory changes would impact dairy farmers across the state and nation. In Wisconsin, the state with the second highest milk production, milk pricing regulations are in effect and dairy farmers are paid significantly higher prices. Years ago federal order hearings concluded that deregulation as called for in AB 2730 is inequitable to dairy producers and processors.

“Dairy farmers in the federal order system have the opportunity to vote when substantive changes are made to dairy farmer pricing regulations and Secretary Ross is denying California dairy farmers that fundamental right,” explained CDC Executive Director Lynne McBride. More than 400 dairies have gone out of business in the last five years and fewer than 1500 dairies remain in California. A significant reason for the drop in the number of dairies is due to the fact that California dairy farmer prices rank lowest in the nation and AB 2730 would drive the price paid to dairy farmers even lower. “The Secretary is claiming there is consensus in support of AB 2730 and yet that could not be further from the truth. Dairy farmers across the state strongly object to the radical changes in dairy pricing regulations called for in AB 2730,” concluded McBride.

California Dairy Campaign (CDC) is a grassroots organization of dairy farmers who are working to encourage lawmakers and the dairy industry to be more responsive to the needs of the family dairy farm in California. CDC is a member organization of California Farmers Union (CFU). Comprised of more than 1300 farmer, and rancher members, California Famers Union advocates policies to lawmakers at the state and national levels on behalf of its membership throughout California. CFU is a state chapter of National Farmers Union (NFU), which represents more than 250,000 members nationwide.

July Milk Production Jumps 4%

August 19, 2014 — The Agriculture Department’s preliminary data issued this afternoon in its latest Milk Production report, shows July milk output in the top 23 producing states at 16.39 billion pounds, up 4 percent from July 2013. The 50-state total, at 17.45 billion pounds, was up 3.9 percent from a year ago. Sequestered 2013 data was reinstated in the July report.    Revisions added 50 million pounds to the original June 23-state estimate, now reported at 16.2 billion pounds, up 2.3 percent from a year ago.    July cow numbers in the 23 states, at 8.58 million head, were up 6,000 from June and 56,000 more head than a year ago. The 50-State count, at 9.27 million head, is up 5,000 from June and 37,000 more than a year ago.    July output per cow in the 23 states averaged 1,911 pounds, up 18 pounds from June, 61 pounds above July 2013, and the highest production per cow for the month of July since the 23 State series began in 2003.

Selected state data is posted below:

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

Arizona       193,000                       1,960                      +8.9%

California    1.778 mil                      1,980                     +4.4%

Colorado    145,000                        2,135                     +7.6%

Florida        123,000                        1,710                     +5.0%

Idaho          580,000                        2,105                     +4.0%

Illinois           95,000                        1,660                     +5.3%

Indiana       179,000                        1,875                     +6.3%

Iowa           207,000                        1,890                     +1.6%

Kansas       142,000                        1,845                     +5.6%

Mich.          391,000                        2,120                      +8.2%

Minn.          460,000                      1,660                      -0.1% N

Mex.        323,000                       2,130                       -0.1%

New York    615,000                     1,935                      +4.8%

Ohio            266,000                     1,735                      +3.4%

Oregon       123,000                      1,750                      -0.9%

Penn.          530,000                     1,690                      +3.0%

S Dakota       97,000                     1,845                      +2.9%

Texas          470,000                     1,840                      +5.5%

Utah              95,000                     1,940                      +4.5%

Vermont      132,000                     1,730                      +4.1%

Virginia          92,000                    1,585                      +3.5%

Wash.          272,000                    2,070                      +2.9% W

Wisconsin    1.270 mil                     1,885                      +3.4%


July Dairy Products Report Revised

August 5, 2014 — Upon questioning of its data by HighGround Dairy’s Eric Meyer, USDA announced Monday that it would re-examine its July Dairy Products report issued Friday, due to a reporting error regarding cheese production in Idaho.    That revision came this afternoon. Meyer outlined the revision as follows:

  • June Cheddar volume revised 17.8 million pounds HIGHER, up 22% vs. June ’13 and 7.7% HIGHER than May ’14.
  • June Natural American volume revised 19.5 million pounds HIGHER, UP 14.5% vs. June ’14 and 9.9% ABOVE May ’14.
    ** It should read vs. June ’13!!!**


Revised June 2014 dairy product output, compared to June 2013 and year-to-date (Y-T-D) estimates included:

Total cheese: 942.12 million lbs., up 3.3%; Y-T-D 5.63 billion lbs., up 2.0%.

Total Italian cheese: 409.33 million lbs., up 4.4%; Y-T-D 2.46 billion lbs., up 4.6%.

Mozzarella: 326.91 million lbs., up 6.1%; Y-T-D 1.95 billion lbs., up 6.7%.

• American: 374.67 million lbs., up 3.2%; Y-T-D 2.24 billion lbs., up 0.3%

Cheddar: 273.86 million lbs., up 5.5%; Y-T-D 1.65 billion lbs., up 0.7%.

• Butter: 139.88 million lbs., down 0.2%; Y-T-D 981.85 million lbs., down 3.1%.

Dry milk powders – Nonfat dry milk, human, 147.99 million lbs., up 13.1%,        Y-T-D  911.9 million lbs., up 5.0%; and skim milk powders, 51.78 million lbs., down            11.1%, Y-T-D 295.54 million lbs., up 1.4%.

Dry whey (total): 79.1 million lbs., down 0.6%; Y-T-D 440.92 million lbs., down        12.4%.

Yogurt: 396.38 million lbs., down 0.2%; Y-T-D 2.44 billion lbs., up 2.7%.

You’ll recall yesterday’s posting from Meyer stated that Idaho’s June production volumes in both Cheddar and Natural American cheese were significantly lower than expectations. Month-over-month and year-over-year percentage declines reached anywhere from 28-40% in both categories – well beyond any historical statistical ranges. This put total June Idaho cheese production down over 21% from both the prior month and year. USDA issued its revision quite quickly.


Cattle Numbers Shrink But Heifers Being Retained

July 29, 2014 — The cattle herd is still shrinking but more heifers are being retained. Cattle supplies remain tight, but a possible expansion is on the horizon. That’s the gist of two cattle USDAreports released by USDA Friday.

The number of cattle in calves was 95 million head, the lowest number since the series began back in 1973, according to USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam.

It’s not possible to make comparisons to 2013 numbers because of last year’s sequester, there was no July 1 Cattle Inventory report. However, numbers were down about three percent from two years ago.

Heifers being kept for beef-cow replacement are at 4.1 million head for July, down two percent from 2012. The number of heifers being kept for milk cow replacements was 3.9 million head, down about five percent from 2012.

The calf crop was 33.6 million head, which was down about two percent from 2012. It’s also the lowest calf crop since 1948.

Help For Rural Californians Suffering From Drought

by Tom Vilsack, Ag Secretary
July 19, 2014 — This week, I visited the small town of Cameron Creek Colony in Tulare County, California and saw firsthand the challenges drought poses, particularly for those living in rural communities.

About 10 percent of Cameron Creek Colony residents have no access to water because their wells have run dry. Still others have only intermittent access to water. Many are in danger

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack

of losing access to water permanently in the near future. One long-time resident told me that until this drought, she’d never worried about water. Now, worrying about having enough water is constantly on her mind.

Fortunately, USDA is able to help this community, and 73,000 residents living in other communities across California, through $9.7 million in grants to help other rural California communities that have experienced a significant decline in the quantity or quality of drinking water due to an emergency. The nearby city of Farmersville, California is receiving a $500,000 USDA grant to construct pipelines connecting Cameron Creek Colony to the Farmersville water main and linking residents to the city water system. This will provide much-needed relief and the surety of a stable water supply for those living in Cameron Creek Colony.

These grants are triple the amount we committed to when President Obama and I visited California in February. I am proud of the work USDA Rural Development staff in California have done to get this funding to those in need and the work they have done with municipal leaders in these rural communities to help residents, businesses and agricultural producers.

This drought is devastating for those who live, work and raise their families in much of rural California and the western United States. It is threatening the survival of whole communities and livelihoods of folks throughout the state. A UC Davis study released earlier this week reported that the drought will cause losses of $880 million in crop revenue, $203 million in dairy and other livestock value and additional groundwater pumping costs of $454 million. The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is estimated to be a staggering $2.2 billion, with a loss of more than 17,000 seasonal and part time jobs.

As the drought continues, let me assure you that the Obama Administration and USDA are committed to increasing investments in the nation’s water infrastructure to mitigate the impact of climate change and to ensure that all Americans have adequate, safe and reliable water supplies. For more information, visit