Milk production in the 23 major dairy states totaled 15.8 billion pounds in January, up 3.7 percent from the same month a year earlier. 

And, according to the USDA’s Milk Production report released on Friday afternoon, milk production across all 50 states was up 3.4 percent from January 2011.

Dave Kurzawski, market analyst with FC Stone/Downes-O’Neill, calls the report “very bearish.”

“Mild temperatures and relatively dry weather have led to unseasonably strong milk production,” he said. “Total milk production was stronger than anticipated once again due to an increase in both cow numbers and milk per cow.”

Production per cow in the 23 major states averaged 1,857 pounds in January, an increase of 46 pounds from January 2011. Cow numbers also increased in these top-producing states. The number of milk cows on farms was 8.5 million head, 93,000 head more than January 2011 and 13,000 head more than December 2011.

States that showed higher production increases in January were: Utah, 8.6 percent; Colorado, 7.8 percent; and Arizona, 7 percent. California, the nation’s top milk-producing state, was up 6.6 percent from January 2011. Vermont declined by 0.5 percent.

January's increase marks the 24th month in a row that milk production has grown on a year-over-year basis.