Comparing March 2014 milk production among the 23 reporting states shows a complete shift from what was going last year. High feed prices, resulting in unfavorable margins for producers in the West, was resulting in deceases in milk production from a year ago. For example, milk production was running 3.3% lower in California and 4.1% lower in Texas, with just a 0.4% increase in Idaho. This March, milk production is up 3.7% in California, 6.4% in Texas and 1.7% in Idaho.
A year ago in the Midwest, milk production was running well above a year ago. For example, production was up 4.9% in Iowa, 2.3% in Minnesota and 3.0% in Wisconsin. This year, production is down 3.4% in Iowa, 3.8% in Minnesota and 1.6% in Wisconsin. We don’t have data as to what is going with cow numbers, but lower quality forage and cold weather no doubt negatively impacted milk per cow.
The situation is similar in the Northeast, with milk production a year ago running 3.5% higher in Michigan, 1.8% higher in New York and 2.3% higher in Ohio. This year, production is up just 0.3% for Michigan, no increase for New York and down 4.8% for Ohio.
However, looking ahead we can expect cow numbers to continue to increase and milk per cow to improve – particularly in the Midwest and Northeast – with a new crop of better quality forages. Cow slaughter has already slowed, down 9.4% through March compared to a year ago. But, the growth in increases in milk production will come on slow, which could result in USDA’s 2.4% increase in milk production for the year being on the high side. And, with this slower growth in milk production, milk prices will likely also decline slower.
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