December, full-year 2013 fluid sales decline

December 2013 packaged fluid milk sales totaled 4.35 billion lbs., down 0.8% from December 2012, according to USDA’s Dairy Market News.

December sales of conventional products, at 4.15 billion lbs., were down 1.5% compared to December 2012; organic products, at 199 million lbs., were up 14.4%. Organic represented about 4.6% of total sales for the month.

For the entire year, packaged fluid milk sales totaled 51.51 billion lbs., down 2.3% from 2012. Sales of conventional products, at 49.24 billion lbs., were down 2.6%; organic products, at 2.27 billion lbs., were up 5.1%. Organic represented about 4.4% of total sales.

Source: Dairy Market News


Milk COP down thanks to lower feed costs

On the strength of lower feed costs, the national average cost to produce milk fell for a fourth consecutive month in January 2014, declining to its lowest level since April 2012. USDA cost estimates are based on total farm costs per hundredweight of milk sold.

USDA’s monthly Milk Cost of Production report showed lower feed costs – both to purchase and/or produce – were the main driver in total cost reductions.

Total feed costs averaged $12.58/cwt. in January 2014, down 20¢ from December 2013 and down $1.73 from January 2013. Purchased feed costs, at $6.69/cwt., were down 5¢ from December 2013, and down 82¢ from January 2013.

Since July 2013, average total feed costs are down $4.62/cwt. of milk sold, a drop of 27%. Feed represented about 52% of total costs in January 2014, compared to 55% a year ago.

Other than feed, there were minimal changes in other operating and allocated overhead costs compared to previous months. Labor, opportunity costs on unpaid labor and capital recovery of machinery/equipment were slightly lower than December 2013, but slightly higher than January 2013.

Total costs, at $24.23/cwt. in January 2014, were down 46¢ from December 2013 and $1.57 less than January 2013. They're down about 17% from July 2013. (USDA did not calculate milk cost of production between March and June 2013 due to sequestration budget cuts.)


WIC changes include yogurt

USDA finalized changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The changes increase access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

Along with a more than 30% increase in the dollar amount for children’s fruits and vegetables purchases, the changes also:

•    expand whole grain options available to participants,

•    provide yogurt as a partial milk substitute for children and women,

•    allow parents of older infants to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables instead of jarred infant food if they choose, and;

•    give states and local WIC agencies more flexibility to meet the nutritional and cultural needs of WIC participants.  

WIC provides low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five with nutritious, supplemental foods. Over 8.5 million participants receive WIC benefits each month.  More information about the changes and the WIC program can be found at


Chobani urges Idaho governor to reconsider agricultural security bill

An Idaho bill making it a crime to secretly film animal abuse on the state's dairy farms has drawn criticism from one of the state's newest dairy processors, Chobani. Senate Bill 1337 was approved by the Idaho House, 56-14, on Feb. 26. It was previously approved in the Idaho Senate, 23-10.

Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani, urged Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter to veto the legislation.

"A bill is up for approval in Idaho that, if passed, would limit transparency and make some instances of exposing the mistreatment of animals in the state punishable by imprisonment,” he said in a released statement. “This could cause the general public concern and conflicts with our views and values.

“As someone who grew up on a farm, I believe deeply that the humane treatment of animals is an ethical and moral imperative and, having spent a lot of time in upstate New York and Idaho, I know hundreds of farmers feel the same,” Ulukaya continued. “When I founded Chobani, it was based around these core values and principles.  And we chose Idaho for Chobani's second home because of its deep farming culture, sense of community and shared values. So I am joining many folks across the country in asking Governor Otter to reconsider the bill before him."   

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